Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Latest Anti-Abortion Trend? Mandate Funerals for Fetuses

The Nation (Oct. 11, 2016): The Latest Anti-Abortion Trend? Mandate Funerals for Fetuses, by Rebecca Grant:

In addition to laws restricting the donation of fetal tissue for medical research and experimentation, states are introducing provisions that would require that fetal tissue be cremated or buried rather than being treating like other medical waste. Burial or cremation requirements were passed in Indiana and Louisiana but have been preliminarily enjoined.  Texas also tried to impose a similar requirement through its Department of Health Services.  As a result of a flurry of comments expressing concern about the rules, the Department has asked for additional input on the rules. 

Mandating interment means that women accessing abortion would be forced to state in writing how they want the tissue disposed of. The fetus would then receive a burial-transit permit and be transferred to a funeral home, where a funeral director would oversee its final disposition. These absurd requirements load additional administrative and logistical burdens on clinics.

Indeed the laws appear to be passed to make a statement about the value of fetal life without consideration that they "contain impossible medical instructions and grotesque contractions." For instance, the laws would include tissue resulting from both abortions and miscarriages and apply to women who miscarry or abort at home.  Further the the funeral industry is not set up for fetal tissue.  Cremation facilities, caskets and burial plots not set up for remains this small.  Cremation or burial requires a death certificate which raises privacy concerns. The average fee for the services of a funeral establishment is $2,000.

[Dr. Tanya Marsh, a professor at Wake Forest Law School] said that laws regarding human remains are typically scattered throughout state codes in five different places. When lawmakers create laws dealing with remains that originate from committees focusing on health and abortion, it’s no surprise that the result is often an ill-conceived mess. “I don’t think [the legislators] thought through all this and recognized what they were doing,” Marsh said. “Politics and dealing with reality are two different things. The original political idea may have been to make life more difficult for the abortion clinics, but the way the laws are written has broader implications.”





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