By Hemant Mehta
Last year, Texas passed a law saying all fetal remains had to be buried or cremated. That used to be the case only for fetuses older than 20 weeks, but the new anti-abortion measure made the age irrelevant. The law also banned donation of that tissue for research purposes. It was blocked by a federal judge earlier this year, just days before it was supposed to go into effect, and that’s where we are right now.
While the intent was to dissuade women from having abortions, the reality was that women who suffered miscarriages or had very early abortions were essentially forced to treat it as a homicide, complete with burial. (As if a fetus that was never viable required a burial.) For women who went through a miscarriage, it only added insult to injury. But that’s what happens when anti-abortion officials get to write the laws.
How does a law like that even come into existence? You won’t be surprised to learn it has religious roots.
Sophie Novack at the Texas Observer just published the heartbreaking story of Blake Norton, who experienced the effects of this law before it ever became a law. That’s because, in 2015, when her doctor realized her 11-week-old baby didn’t have a heartbeat, he sent her to a Catholic hospital to remove the tissue. And that hospital already had a burial policy in place.
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