Whole Woman's Health v. Phillips


Primary Content

(REVISED 09.05.2019) The Center for Reproductive Rights filed litigation against the state of Texas in 2016 challenging unconstitutional new regulations that mandate the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnancy surgery – regardless of the woman’s personal wishes or beliefs.

Plaintiff(s): Whole Woman’s Health, Brookside Women’s Medical Center PA d/b/a Brookside Women’s Health Center and Austin Women’s Health Center, Dr. Lendol L. Davis, Alamo City Surgery Center PLLC d/b/a Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, and Nova Health Systems, Inc. d/b/a Reproductive Services

Attorney(s):  Autumn Katz, Molly Duane, Caroline Sacerdote

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Stephanie Toti, The Lawyering Project; Patrick J. O'Connell, Law Offices of Patrick J. O'Connell PPLC; J. Alexander Lawrence, Morrison & Foerster LLP


The Center filed a lawsuit in federal court on December 12, 2016 challenging Texas Department of State Health Services regulations that require embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnant surgery to be buried or cremated. Following a hearing, the trial court granted our request for a preliminary injunction on January 27, 2017 and the regulations were blocked from taking effect.

The Texas legislature then passed a new statute similarly restricting the disposal of fetal tissue.  On December 22, 2017, we filed an amended complaint to add claims regarding the new statute and to once again request a preliminary injunction.  On January 29, 2018, the trial court again blocked the new rules from taking effect.  A full trial on the merits took place in July 2018 in Austin, Texas and on September 5, 2018, the district court permanently struck down the law as unconstitutional.

The State appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  Oral argument took place on September 5, 2019, and we are now awaiting a ruling.