In the 43 years since the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists have desperately tried one tactic after another to make abortions more difficult to obtain—logistically, financially, and emotionally.
Logistically, they have sought to impose increasingly burdensome regulations that have resulted in clinic closures all across the country. This has left Texas, for example, with just 18 clinics (down from 41 in 2012) to serve the entire state.
Financially, they have restricted abortion funding through the Hyde Amendment which bans “the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother.”
The emotional tactic is perhaps the most insidious, as it seeks to vilify women who seek abortion, subjecting them to shame and guilt them at a moment during which they least need the judgment of strangers. These efforts have included measures to force transvaginal ultrasounds on women seeking abortions. 13 states now require this procedure, with three states requiring the provider “to show and describe the image,” and another 10 states requiring the provider to “offer the woman the opportunity to view the image.”
The goal seems to be to humanize the fetus in a way that has nothing to do with the legality of abortion whatsoever. The thinking goes that the more a woman is forced to confront the potentiality of the fetus to become a living, breathing being, the less likely she is to undergo the procedure, whatever the circumstance of her life may be—and, more importantly, whatever the circumstances of the infant’s life would be upon delivery into the world.
Not wishing to be outdone in the crazy-and-oppressive department, Texas’s Health and Human Services Commission has proposed new rules that “would require that fetal remains be cremated or buried, regardless of the period of gestation.”
In other words, Texas would like women who have abortions to be forced to have funerals for their aborted fetuses, even if the abortion occurs at a time when it amounts to a heavy menstrual flow.
Here’s what will happen after a woman gets an abortion in the state of Indiana, starting this July. She will be told, verbally and in writing, that she has the right to choose what she does with her aborted fetus. She will be given a list of her options for disposal, and offered counseling. The fetus does not have to be named, but it will receive its own burial-transit form, just like any dead body. This form will travel with it to a funeral home, where it will be buried or cremated. There won’t necessarily be a ceremony; the fetus may not get its own headstone or urn. But it will be laid to rest in the way of a human. Aborted fetuses in Indiana, nearly all smaller than a peapod, will no longer be treated as medical waste.
This is what the state’s legislature decided back in March. It passed a wide-ranging bill, making it a criminal offense to dispose of fetal remains in any other way besides burial or cremation, including in cases of abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths.
This, of course, is nonsense. Burial and cremation are mourning rituals designed to help living human beings grieve the death of a loved one. Forcing such a ritual on a woman choosing to end a pregnancy is nothing more than a brazen attempt to shame her into making a different choice.
“None of this has to do with public health. It’s harassment,” said Kellie Copeland, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
The always-unctuous Republican Governor Greg Abbott says that he “believes human and fetal remains should not be treated like medical waste, and the proposed rule changes affirms the value and dignity of all life.” It is unclear whether Governor Abbott has ever personally been a pregnant woman, as his statement would seem to suggest.
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