AUSTIN, Texas — The governor of Texas has directed state health officials to propose new rules requiring abortion facilities to bury or cremate aborted babies instead of disposing of children as medical waste.
“Governor Abbott believes human and fetal remains should not be treated like medical waste, and the proposed rule changes affirms the value and dignity of all life,” spokesperson Ciara Matthew said in a statement Thursday. “For the unborn, the mothers and the hospital and clinic staff, the governor believes it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.”
Abortion facilities customarily contract with third party medical waste companies to dispose of the aborted babies, which are usually classified as “pathological waste.” The containers of aborted babies, mixed in with boxes of bodily fluids, tissues and other items that are not permitted to be thrown in the trash, are then transported to an incineration plant where they are burned into ash.
However, current Texas law also allows for other types of disposal, including “grinding and discharging to a sanitary sewer system,” “chlorine disinfection/maceration followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill” or other “approved alternate treatment process, provided that the process renders the item as unrecognizable, followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill.”
Sometimes abortion facilities fail to label the boxes for incineration and the children are therefore transported to autoclave sites where they are steam cleaned and dumped into landfills. As previously reported, the medical waste company Stericycle was fined $42,000 in Texas in 2011 for dumping fetal remains from Whole Woman’s Health in Austin with household and commercial trash.
“It was explained that medical waste is placed in red biohazard bags, then placed into boxes provided by Stericycle. Each fetus resulting from an abortion is placed into a hard plastic container and then into a red biohazard bag. The bag is then placed into a freezer, where it is stored,” an investigative report from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) outlined.
“When Stericycle arrives to transport the medical waste, the individual fetuses are removed from the freezer and placed into another large red biohazard bag. The red biohazard bag containing the fetuses is placed into the medical waste box along with other medical waste generated at the facility that requires treatment,” it continued.
Stericycle and other medical waste companies will now no longer be able to dispose of the babies when the new rules go into effect.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission says that it has already crafted the new rules as per Abbott’s directives. It opened the regulations for a 30-day public comment period this month.
“The Health and Human Services Commission developed new rules to ensure Texas law maintains the highest standards of human dignity,” spokesman Bryan Black told reporters. “Public comment will be taken, and then the final rules are expected to take effect in September.”
Abortion advocacy groups are decrying the regulations, opining that they place a “burden” on abortive mothers.
“This is a new low for our state’s leaders who are committed to making abortion inaccessible and shaming Texans who have an abortion,” said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “A person who needs an abortion will unfairly bear the burden of these new regulations and every abortion patient deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”