Irritated Federal Judge Demands Answers From Texas Republicans Over Intrusive Fetal Burial Law

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks abruptly ended a hearing on the constitutionality of Texas’ fetal burial law and ordered the state to come back the next day with answers to his questions.

Last month, shortly before the law that required aborted fetal tissue to be cremated or buried was set to go into effect, The Center for Reproductive Rights and Whole Woman’s Health filed a lawsuit challenging it. The organizations and other groups believe that forcing clinics to bury the tissue isn’t medically necessary and places “unnecessary restrictions” on abortions:

“These regulations are an insult to Texas women, the rule of law and the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared less than six months ago that medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion access are unconstitutional,” says Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

Joe Pojman, the executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said, “I’m hopeful these rules can go into effect as soon as possible. We have tens of thousands of abortions every year in Texas, and right now it’s legal for those remains of those unborn children to be ground and flushed down a sewer system or ended up being dumped in a landfill, and that needs to change.”  

To be clear, ninety percent of biomedical waste, including fetal tissue, is incinerated and the ash is then deposited in a landfill. It is not just arbitrarily tossed into garbage cans and then carted off by a garbage truck and dumped into the city landfills like common household trash. 

Reproductive rights’ advocates also believe that fetal tissue laws are just another way to shame women into not having abortions and Mark Harrington, of the pro-life group Created Equal, said that is exactly the point:

“It goes without saying, if she’s given the option to cremate or bury she’s going to maybe wonder that this isn’t just some kind of blob of tissue,” he says. “That this actually may be a child and she may choose not to abort.”  

The conservative, who pushed for a similar bill in Ohio earlier this year said his goal is to pressure disposal companies into canceling their contracts with abortion providers and “shut down abortion clinics around the country.”

During the hearing on Tuesday, Judge Sparks became visibly irritated with the state of Texas over the law. He called out Republicans and asked why they would pass a law that contradicts another state law that allows ashes to be scattered over private land with the owner’s consent.

“I want the state to give me answers about how one regulation can overrule another state statute,” Judge Sparks said. He then ended the hearing and told Texas officials to come back at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning with answers.

Hopefully the judge’s irritation on Tuesday was a signal that he is not impressed with the state’s most recent attempt to rip away women’s rights from them by shaming them into submission. They have already demonstrated that this law has nothing to do with giving fetuses the “dignity” of a burial and everything to do with their never-ending war on women. It’s disgusting.