Texas passed a new regulation requiring "cremation or burial" of fetal tissue after a miscarriage or medical abortion, and to hear the lawmakers who passed this idiotic rule, this requires grieving women to dress up minute scraps of tissue in little funeral suits and stand contrite over a tiny casket while a clergyman excoriates them for disappointing god with their selfish uteruses.
The reality is that the Texas regulators do not have the right to reclassify fetal tissue as "human remains" (which is the only kind of tissue that funeral homes can dispose of) -- so fetal tissue remains "medical waste." Guess how we get rid of medical waste? It's either incinerated ("cremated") or sterilized and sent to a landfill ("buried").
So, basically, all the chest-thumping about treating fetuses as dead babies is just a snow-job to make the low-information voters cheering on these idiots feel good about controlling women and their naughty reproductive organs.
There's plenty else that's terrible in the rule, but this part is just ugly window-dressing.
Now, on the other hand, Mike Pence's Indiana passed a law that is a genuine horrorshow:
In Indiana, we’re not dealing with a regulation, we’re dealing with a law, passed by the legislature. (And pushed through by your new vice president elect, Mike Pence.) Indiana did actually take fetal tissue and changed its category to “human remains.” This is transparently an anti-abortion statute although the law in Indiana applies to both “aborted fetuses” and “miscarried fetuses.”
The problem with that change is that we have the same definition (“human remains”) for a “fetus” of one-week gestation as we do for a 200 pound, 65 year old adult.
By the new Indiana law, within 24 hours, the healthcare center has to give the woman a written form saying she has the right to take the remains to a funeral home. Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit and got a temporary restraining order with respect to the part of the law that has to do with “aborted fetuses.” But the law regarding “miscarried fetuses” went into effect on July 1st. Indiana hospitals are currently requiring women who suffered a miscarriage before 20 weeks to sign a form that refers to “my baby’s body” multiple times. Nurses have been obviously horrified to give out this new form to woman, but the law requires them to do so. As Tanya said, the Indiana law is “impractical, absurd, and paternalistic.”
If the woman does not want the “remains,” the healthcare centers have to have them buried or cremated. They are allowed to co-mingle, but they do have to deal directly with a cemetery and/or funeral home which is more expensive than dealing with a medical waste company.
It’s worth noting that Georgia also has very bad laws in this category. Worse than Texas, but not as bad as Indiana. Nobody comes close to how bad Indiana is.
[Caitlin Doughty/Order of the Good Death]
(Image: Planned Parenthood Rally Austin, TX 3/13/12, Scatx, CC-BY)