AUSTIN, Texas — Abortion advocates have again expressed their opposition to a proposed rule that would mandate abortion facilities to cremate or bury the remains of murdered children instead of disposing of their bodies as medical waste or sending them into the sewer system.
“Legally, practically and morally, these rules are unnecessary,” a statement from Tina Hester of the organization Jane’s Due Process was read aloud during a public hearing on Wednesday.
“These proposed rules are not meant to protect people’s health and safety,” also remarked Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “They are just another attempt to restrict access to care that’s deeply needed and shame and hurt women in the process.”
Those opposed to the rule state that the requirement to cremate or bury the children would drive up the cost of an abortion. The Austin Chronicle reports that the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Texas estimates the rule will result in mothers paying an additional $2,000 to dispose of their children.
Abortion advocacy groups also opine that the current regulations are sufficiently humane.
As previously reported, 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.
While some stood against the proposed regulations on Wednesday, others said that treating babies as waste is unthinkable.
“It is unconscionable that anyone would defend the grinding and flushing of the bodies of unborn babies who are victims of abortion down the drain and into a city sewer system as if they were mere medical waste,” testified John Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. “That method of the disposition of the remains should be banned, as the proposed rules do.”
“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 also said when the rule was first introduced. “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.”
A public hearing was also held about the rule in August.