AUSTIN, Texas — Health officials in Texas have announced that they will move forward with implementing a rule requiring the burial or cremation of aborted babies instead of the current allowance under the law to dispose of the dead children as medical waste.
According to the Texas Tribune, the rule was finalized on Monday and is set to take effect on Dec. 19.
Abortion advocacy groups have decried the requirement, calling it a part of the so-called war on women, and have threatened litigation.
“These new restrictions reveal the callous indifference that Texas politicians have toward women,” Center for Reproductive Rights attorney David Brown told reporters this week.
But Gov. Greg Abbott, who had requested that the Department of State Health Services construct the rule, opined that babies shouldn’t be treated like garbage.
“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 in July. “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.”
And while some had argued that the rule would increase costs for abortion facilities and hospitals, and possibly thus increasing costs for abortion-minded mothers, the state health department said that the cost shouldn’t be more than what facilities are currently paying medical waste disposal companies.
“What we found through our research is that the proposed rules won’t increase total costs for healthcare facilities,” representative Carrie Williams told the Dallas Morning News. “While the methods described in the new rules may have a cost, that cost is expected to be offset by costs currently being spent by facilities on disposition for transportation, storage, incineration, steam disinfection and/or landfill disposal.”
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 and then dumped into landfills.
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 only steam cleaned before being transported to landfills. As previously reported, and as outlined by the Campaign to Stop Stericycle, 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.
“We hope that this law helps our nation to see the humanity of the child in the womb and also helps women who are contemplating abortion to understand more fully the unique gift of a child,” Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins told reporters.
The rule will not apply to women who suffer a miscarriage, and a death certificate will not be required for the children.