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12.12.16 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today the Center for Reproductive Rights filed new litigation against the state of Texas over 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.
The politically-motivated rules are designed to restrict a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortion by increasing both the cost of reproductive health care services and the shame and stigma surrounding abortion and pregnancy loss.
The lawsuit demands that the state halt implementation of regulations finalized late last month by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The final rules disregard widespread objection from medical organizations, legal experts and others who argue that these unconstitutional new restrictions offer no public health or safety benefit.
The regulations – first proposed just four days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision in June – are in direct defiance of the high court’s ruling, which held that restrictions on legal abortion cannot impose burdens on a woman’s right to access abortion care without providing any legitimate, medical benefit.
Said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“These regulations are an insult to Texas women, the rule of law and the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared less than six months ago that medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion access are unconstitutional.
“These insidious regulations are a new low in Texas' long history of denying women the respect that they deserve to make their own decision about their lives and their healthcare.
“The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to fight for Texas women, and women across the nation, to ensure their rights are protected.”
Said Amy Hagstrom-Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, lead plaintiff in the case:
“Texas’ profound disrespect of women’s health and dignity apparently has no bounds with this new regulation announced just days after our June victory in the Supreme Court. This latest attack is an end run game to add restrictions on abortion care and it ignores thousands of Texan’s testimony and comments.
“We at Whole Woman’s Health have a history of fighting restrictions that are deeply rooted in shaming and stigmatizing Texans and today’s filing is no different. We will not stand for Texas putting more undue burdens on women and families who deserve the safe and compassionate abortion care that we provide at Whole Woman’s Health.”
Today’s lawsuit was filed by David Brown and Molly Duane of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Austin attorneys Jan Soifer and Patrick O’Connell of the law firm O’Connell & Soifer, and J. Alexander Lawrence of the law firm Morrison & Foerster in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health, Brookside Women’s Health Center and Austin Women’s Health Center, Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, Reproductive Services and Dr. Lendol Davis.
The regulations are part of an ongoing attack across the country to restrict access to legal abortion through unnecessary regulations that endanger women’s health and safety. State legislators have passed more than 330 new restrictions on abortion access in the last five years alone.
The new litigation comes as Texas faces a $4.5 million legal bill over its defense of the sham clinic shutdown laws struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.