(Corrects eighth paragraph to show that women who miscarry at
home were exempted from the rules)
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas Dec 15 A U.S. judge on Thursday
temporarily halted until Jan. 6 a Texas regulation that would
require abortion providers to dispose of aborted fetal tissue
through burial or cremation, court documents showed.
The regulation, which was supposed to go into effect on Dec.
19, also would require hospitals and other medical facilities to
bury or cremate miscarried fetuses. It is seen by women's health
providers as part of a nationwide agenda to place new
restrictions on abortions.
Under the temporary restraining order issued in the U.S.
District Court for the Western District of Texas, Judge Sam
Sparks will hold hearings on Jan. 3 and 4, according to
electronic court filings.
"This restriction, just like the many before it, all across
our nation, does not create any health benefit for women and is
strictly designed to limit access to safe, quality abortion
care," Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and chief executive officer
of Whole Woman's Health, said in a statement.
State officials were not immediately available for comment.
Republicans opposed to abortion proposed new restrictions on
the procedure in several states after the U.S. Supreme Court in
June struck down some regulations in Texas.
At the time, the Supreme Court said provisions of the Texas
law requiring abortion doctors to have difficult-to-obtain
"admitting privileges" at local hospitals and requiring clinics
to have costly hospital-grade facilities violated a woman's
right to an abortion.
Abortion rights providers in legal filings against the Texas
fetal tissue measure said it "imposes a funeral ritual" on women
who have a miscarriage or an abortion, whether they want it or
not. Authorities later exempted women who miscarry at places
such as their homes from the rules.
Abortion rights groups contend the regulations could impinge
on funeral homes in the socially conservative state, which might
face a backlash if they are perceived as being aligned with
The Texas limitations would be far more stringent than
regulations in almost every other state, which allow aborted
fetal tissue to be disposed of in a similar fashion to human
tissue, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Chris Reese, Andrew
Hay and Bernarrd Orr)