- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2016

Emboldened by its victory at the Supreme Court earlier this year, a pro-choice group is challenging a Texas regulation requiring the human remains from abortions to be buried or cremated.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit on Monday, claiming the rule is “unconstitutional” and only designed to “cut off access to legal abortion and shame women.”

“These insidious regulations are a new low in Texas’ long history of denying women the respect that they deserve to make their own decisions about their lives and their healthcare,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the center, said in a statement.

The rule was introduced by the Texas Health and Human Services in July and was set to go into effect next week. It came as a part of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s L.I.F.E. Initiative, a four-pronged plan to create a culture of life throughout the state, such as by cutting off taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction on the rule’s enforcement.

Mr. Abbott previously argued the remains of unborn children should not be “treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.”

“I believe it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life,” the governor said in an email to supporters after the introduction of the rule. “This is why Texas will require clinics and hospitals to bury or cremate human and fetal remains.”

This is not the first time the Center for Reproductive Rights has taken Texas to court.

The New York-based advocacy group represented the plaintiffs in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the landmark Supreme Court decision striking down several health and safety regulations on abortion clinics in Texas. The court said those rules imposed an undue burden on women seeking abortions in the state.

​Whole Woman’s Health, which operates several abortion clinics in Texas, is among the plaintiffs in this case.​

The new lawsuit cites the Hellerstedt decision, arguing the burial rule “employs precisely the same tactics” as the regulations struck down in the June decision.

“It does nothing to improve public health or safety, as DSHS alleges; rather, it is a pretext for restricting abortion access,” the lawsuit says.

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