U.S. judge blocks Texas regulations for fetal tissue remains

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By Jon Herskovitz | AUSTIN, Texas

AUSTIN, Texas A federal judge in Texas on Friday
halted state regulations that would require abortion providers
to dispose of aborted fetal tissue through burial or cremation,
saying the rules imposed “undue burdens on a woman’s right to
seek a previability abortion.”

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued an injunction that
will stay in effect until the court can render “a meaningful
decision on the merits” of the case, online court documents

State lawyers argued that the Texas Department of State
Health Service’s (DSHS) regulation was in line with preserving
human dignity but plaintiffs, who included abortion providers,
said it was an unnecessary and vague regulation aimed at making
abortions more arduous and expensive.

“It seems unlikely DSHS’S professed purpose is a valid state
interest and not a pretext for restricting abortion access,”
Sparks wrote.

“By comparison, Plaintiffs face likely constitutional
violations, which could severely limit abortion access in
Texas,” he wrote.

The proposed Texas limitations would be more stringent than
regulations in almost every other state, which allow aborted
fetal tissue to be disposed of in the same manner as other human
tissue, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion
rights research group.

The Texas regulation change was crafted shortly after the
state suffered a stinging defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court last
year when the justices struck down separate abortion
restrictions backed by the state’s Republican leaders.

Providers of women’s health services including abortions
argue the rules are part of a nationwide agenda to place
restrictions on abortions and make it harder for women to get
the procedure.

“This restriction, just like the many before it, all across
our nation, does not create any health benefit for women and is
strictly designed to limit access to safe, quality abortion
care,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the chief executive of Whole Woman’s
Health and a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the state
will continue its fight.

He said in a statement that the ruling “reaffirms that the
abortion lobby has grown so extreme that it will reject any and
every regulation no matter how sensible.”

In a separate reproductive rights case, Sparks heard
arguments this month over plans from Texas to cut Medicaid
funding for Planned Parenthood. He has placed a hold on the
funding cuts to consider what he called “the mountain of
evidence” in the case.

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