Satanic Temple slams new Texas fetus burial rule opposed by Pro-Choice groups
Abortion rights activists may have found an unlikely ally in the Satanic Temple, which has vowed to oppose a new Texas state rule requiring fetal tissue be given a burial or cremation.
In two weeks, a new state rule on medical waste will take effect in Texas, meaning aborted fetal tissue must undergo “interment.”
From December 18, Texas hospitals and abortion clinics will no longer be permitted to place fetal tissue in sanitary landfills and instead will have to organize a burial of sorts. Although not an official law, the rule could be used to guide court procedures.
The Satanic Temple, which uses Satan as a symbol to promote secularism, has now denounced the rule for enforcing a “well-established component of religious practice.”
TEXAS RULE ON FETAL REMAINS THE SATANIC TEMPLE RELIGIOUS DEFENSE OF REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS The Texas Department of Health and Human Services plans to enforce new rules that require that fetal tissue must be buried or cremated and can no longer be disposed of in sanitary landfills as they are in every other state. The Satanic Temple believes burial rites are a well-established component of religious practice. This is undisputed in the entirety of US legal history. In addition, members of The Satanic Temple believe in the inviolability of the body and, as such, these rules contradict our fundamental beliefs. The First Amendment protects our right to practice our beliefs, and under the Religious Freedom Reform Act (RFRA), the State must present a compelling reason for why they want to enforce rules that inhibit adherence to our religious practices. Clearly, the State of Texas has no compelling reason because these rules were not enacted to promote health and safety, but rather to harass and burden women who terminate their pregnancies. For these reasons, members of The Satanic Temple are not required to comply with the Texas rule on fetal remains. Nevertheless, we will require legal support to protect the rights of our members. Read more at thesatanictemple.com and religiousreproductiverights.com #thesatanictemple #religiousreproductiverights
The group has already targeted the inclusion of religious practices in education and local government by setting up an “After School Satan Club” in Oregon and hailing the Dark Lord in a prayer at an Alaskan council meeting.
In a statement, the organization said government must provide a reason for advocating burial.
“Clearly, the State of Texas has no compelling reason because these rules were not enacted to promote health and safety, but rather to harass and burden women who terminate their pregnancies,” the group said.
Tenants of The Satanic Temple (TST) pic.twitter.com/3xFOgc7CkC— AtheistHuman (@AthiestHuman) September 26, 2016
The group has threatened legal action against the state “to protect the rights of our members.”
Abortion rights group, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, argues that Rule 1.136 does nothing but “impose an undue burden on Texans seeking abortion care.”
NARAL say health care providers and abortion clinics already work within the law to dispose of medical waste and claim the insistence on burial interferes with patient privacy.
“The addition of non-medical ritual to current clinical practice only serves to further interfere with a patient’s autonomy and decision-making in their own medical care,” the NARAL website states.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of abortion and gynecology clinic Whole Woman’s Health, accused the state of showing “profound disrespect” towards women’s well-being.
“These rules have absolutely no added benefit to women’s health and safety and are clearly an undue burden," Hagstrom said.
She added that providing obstacles to safe abortion is “clearly unconstitutional”.
According to the Texas Tribune, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has thrown his support behind fetal burial because of his belief that the tissue should not be “treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.”
Abbott outlined his stance on the rule in an email to campaign fundraisers, citing it as a way he is trying to “turn the tides against the soulless abortion industry in Texas.”