From the Austin-American Statesman | Link
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks on Thursday blocked the state of Texas from implementing rules that require fetal remains, whether from an abortion or a miscarriage, to be buried or cremated.
The regulation was set to go in effect on Monday. Sparks suspended it until Jan. 6, by which time he will have heard two days of testimony and made a decision about whether to block it permanently, as lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights have asked him to do.
Sparks initially requested the state to voluntarily delay implementing the rule until he could make a ruling and appeared agitated at the state’s refusal to do so.
“This is the first time the state of Texas has ever said it was going to go ahead (with implementing a regulation) when there’s a suit of substance before” a federal court, Sparks said from the bench.
Throughout the hearing Thursday, Sparks appeared skeptical of the state’s argument that the new rule was needed to preserve the “respect and dignity” of aborted fetuses, noting that the state’s recommendations for how medical facilities should comply with the rule involves freezing many fetal remains together for storage and incinerating them all at once.
The Department of State Health Services proposed the rule, which is supported by Gov. Greg Abbott, days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down elements of House Bill 2, abortion restrictions adopted by the Legislature in 2013.