Attorney General Ken Paxton today urged the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a district court decision that blocked implementation of Texas’ new rules on the humane disposition of fetal remains.

The rules issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services require health care providers to treat fetal remains with dignity by burying or cremating them. Before the rules, fetal remains could be discharged into a sewer system, incinerated, or sent to a landfill.  

A district court’s ruling against the state of Texas last December “contains multiple errors of fact and law” and contradicts U.S. Supreme Court precedent, Attorney General Paxton told the 5th Circuit in a legal brief.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that a state ‘may express profound respect for the life of the unborn,’ and it is permitted to adopt measures that show respect for that life as long as those measures are not a ‘substantial obstacle’ to abortion access,” Attorney General Paxton wrote.

Recently, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 8, which creates a chapter in the Texas Health and Safety Code that would govern the disposition of fetal tissue, much like the proposed new rules.

“Texas has chosen to respect unborn life by adopting rules requiring the dignified treatment of fetal remains, rather than allow health care facilities to dispose of the remains in sewers or landfills,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The new rules are constitutional, pose no obstacle to health care access, allow compliance at a low cost, and further Texas’ valid interest in respecting unborn life.”