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Federal judge again halts Texas rule requiring burial of fetal remains

[JURIST] The US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] continued the suspension of a Texas health department regulation [text, PDF] on Friday which would require the burial or cremation of all fetal remains in Texas. The regulation is on hold until further notice and the constitutionality of the regulation will be determined at an upcoming trial. The lawsuit [text] was filed by abortion rights groups who argued that the new regulation "unfairly burdens women seeking pregnancy-related medical care." The presiding judge had previously suggested that the new regulation had public health benefits, but decided to suspend the regulation on Friday after hearing two days of testimony. Similar regulation has been struck down in federal courts in Louisiana and Indiana in the past.

Abortion restrictions have been a much contested issue in Texas and other states in recent years. Much of the discussion is about when a proposed state law regulating abortion can be considered an undue burden on access to abortion. The US Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a Texas law in June 2016, that imposed certain requirements on abortion clinics and doctors. The Texas regulation mandating the burial of fetal remains in Texas was challenged [JURIST report] in court in December by abortion rights groups. The court temporarily suspended [JURIST report] the regulation in December and extended the suspension [JURIST report] in January.

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