By Colin LeCroy
Beginning December 19, the irrepressible state of Texas will require hospitals and abortion facilities to provide for the “interment” of the “products of . . . induced human abortion.” In normal English, Texas will now require abortion clinics to bury the babies they killed. Previously, state regulation required abortion facilities treat the remains like other medical waste, such as tissue that was removed in surgery.
And what seems a rather obvious requirement to so many Texans has the pro-abortion community—which exists in a near-constant state of outrage—fuming. Again.
Abortion advocates complain that the symbolism of the regulation is an effort to insert politicians’ “personal beliefs” into women’s health care decisions. The regulation certainly requires dead pre-born humans be treated like toddlers, teenagers, and senior citizens. Texas is recognizing that, at least for the purposes of burial, pre-born persons are equivalent to people with a birth certificate. Of course, this perception shouldn’t really be characterized as a “personal belief,” but more an observation of reality.
If Aborted Babies Deserve A Burial, They Deserve A Life
The law cuts through the sophistry that the pro-abortion community concocts to deny the obvious scientific reality that abortion is the premeditated killing of a living human being. Fetuses, prior to abortion, are 1) living, 2) human, and 3) separate persons. They’re not dead. They’re not clumps of tissue. And they have a physical and genetic existence separate from their mothers’. So they shouldn’t be treated like needles and bandages and tumors and ingrown toenails.
The glaring shortcoming—and irony—of the law is that it recognizes the dignity of pre-born humans after they’re dead, while failing to take the more important step of recognizing their humanity while they’re still living. But this is the sort of intellectual imbecility our current jurisprudence produces. The problem is that the Supreme Court has determined the pre-born have no meaningful rights, preventing Texans from using our traditional democratic processes to reach a consensus about what rights of pre-born persons should be recognized and protected.
Will the Roe v. Wade decision one day look like the Dred Scott case, the now-repudiated decision in which the Court determined that a slave had no meaningful rights? Many Texans had a visceral, reflexive reaction to what they saw in the Planned Parenthood videos last summer. They saw an abortion clinic owner joking about storing aborted fetuses in the freezer, putting them in a bonfire, and flushing them down the garbage disposal. But many see these as real, actual humans being aborted. Their humanity is undeniable. And we’re justifiably infuriated and in disbelief that any American could treat the weakest and most innocent of our society with such cruelty.
Will This Encourage More Conversations About Life?
Of course, public support for the new regulation isn’t going to determine whether it remains in place. Abortion advocates assert that the new Texas regulation imposes a costly obstacle for women seeking an abortion and have indicated they will challenge it in court. It’s impossible to know, at this point, whether such a challenge would work.
The constitutional question is whether the regulation would present an “undue burden” on the ability of the mother to obtain an otherwise-legal abortion. We will have to see how the state enforces the regulation and how clinics respond. How much will interment cost? Will the required interment cost more than the sterile waste disposal procedures currently in place?
The state, for its part, says the regulation won’t make an abortion cost more because it just changes the way it requires remains to be handled. Will the clinic pay that bill, or will it pass the cost on the mother? If to the mother, does the cost prevent her from obtaining an abortion? And if there’s a burden on the mother, is it “undue”? That answer largely depends on the preconceptions of the judge making the decision.
This regulation once again demonstrates we have a significant disagreement in this country about whether preborn persons have a right to life that should be protected, even against their mothers’ “right to privacy.” This isn’t a disagreement several Ivy League-educated, unelected lawyers should decide for the rest of us.
Charitable service expands longtime practice of many Catholic cemeteries for children lost to miscarriages
AUSTIN — Catholic cemeteries are stepping forward, working with the Catholic bishops in Texas, in response to ongoing efforts to provide a proper burial for children lost to abortion.
New state regulations issued by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) require the interment of the remains of all children who are lost through abortion or miscarriage at a healthcare or abortion facility. These regulations will be effective December 19.
Many hospitals already cooperate with families, funeral homes, and cemeteries to provide a proper burial for children who die in utero. Catholic cemeteries in many (arch)dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of San Antonio, have provided these burials for years.
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) will continue to work with Catholic cemeteries and funeral homes to further develop this ministry to provide the same service throughout the state to children who die by abortion. The service will be provided at no charge.
“To bury the dead is a work of mercy,” TCCB Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon explained. “As Pope Francis reminds us, the victims of our ‘throwaway culture’ are ‘the weakest and most fragile human beings.’ It is right and just for us to be assisting the victims of abortion.” Catholic cemeteries estimate that their costs will range from $1,500 to $13,000 annually to inter children who die from abortions. There are more than 50 Catholic cemeteries in the state; the TCCB also hopes to collaborate with other cemeteries, funeral homes, and mortuaries.
The burial of the dead is praised in canon law (Code of Canon Law, c. 1176), the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Scripture. In Scripture, Tobias was lauded by the angel Raphael for burying the dead without hesitation (Tobit, 1:17-20, 2:1-7, 12:11-13). The Catechism states, “The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit” (no. 2300). By this corporal work of mercy, we perform charitable actions “by which we come to the aid of our neighbor” (Catechism, no. 2447).
DSHS reports that in 2014, the latest year for which data is available, 54,902 abortions were performed in Texas. In the same year, there were 2,200 fetal deaths statewide.
The new law modifies Texas Administrative Code §1.136, which already included interment as one of three possible ways to dispose of children lost through abortion or miscarriage. The revision only removes the other two options: “deposition in a sanitary landfill;” and “grinding and discharging to a sanitary sewer system.”
Patients are not required to participate in deposition; the law specifically applies only to healthcare or abortion facilities, and does not apply to women who lose a child outside of a healthcare or abortion facility, such as at their own home. Burial records will be maintained by hospitals and cemeteries.
The Catholic ministry is available to all, regardless of their situation. “This is an important service for the most vulnerable children in our state,” Allmon said. “We must treat the remains of all human beings, no matter how long they lived or how they died, with dignity, charity and respect. In addition, this ministry offers a place to pray for healing to those who regret their abortion, or for abortion workers who leave the industry.”
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is the association of the Roman Catholic bishops of Texas.
Through the TCCB, the bishops provide a moral and social public policy voice that includes monitoring all legislation pertaining to Catholic moral and social teaching; accrediting the state’s Catholic schools; and maintaining records that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.