Texas has recently passed a law requiring the burial or cremation of aborted fetuses, and as fetuses who are miscarried at any health care facility. This bill creates a sense of indignity for any mothers who cannot afford the required procedures.
The bill is going into effect on Dec. 19 and is championed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who strangely lacks the reproductive system required to carry a baby to term in the first place. The bill has currently unknown financial repercussions on mothers; however, a CNN article by Eliott C. McLaughlin provides an estimate from the Texas Medical Association that the funerary process will cost between $1500 and $4000. According to Planned Parenthood, an abortion can cost between $300 and $950; depending on the procedure that is received. However, the state of Texas said that, according to numerous clinics, the estimated cost of a burial or cremation would be $450 annually per a facility.
According to the state, “This cost would be offset by the elimination of the current method of disposition.” Marilyn Robertson, board president of Jane’s Due Process, which gives legal representation to pregnant adolescents, gave a testimony to the state in response to the bill. She called the state’s assertion on cost “fundamentally incorrect,” saying that, “Undoubtedly, if these rules will be implemented, the clinics are forced to pass along the costs of this unnecessary regulation, which is not insignificant.”
McLaughlin explained the belief behind the bill is that it will provide dignity to the babies whose lives were lost to abortion. However, creating an unnecessary cost through the implementation of a completely unnecessary procedure creates a lack of dignity for the mother, instead.
Legislation that forces women into burying their aborted fetuses is not the answer to finding dignity. As Robertson said in her testimony to the state, the cost of burial is “not insignificant,” especially to those who have a financial reason for seeking abortion.
The Guttmacher Institute reported that, as of 2008, many women who sought abortion are young, 58 percent being in their mid-twenties. Over 50 percent of those women were part of a racial minority group. 85 percent of them were unmarried or in a long-term relationship that had yet to result in marriage. Many of these women lacked health insurance or paid out of pocket, indicating a lack of coverage.
By reviewing these statistics, it is easy to see that women who will be able to pay for the burial fees and services required by the state are women who have the safety net to assist them. They are women with a salary or a savings that they would use to help the child that they are bringing into the world. They are most likely married, with a support system, and have an education to back up their skills in both raising and providing for a child. These are women who likely made the active decision to have a child, or they had the realization that were capable of raising an unexpected child.
As a person who has the reproductive organs required to actually be affected by this bill, I feel confident in my ability to voice the opinion that, all in all, this bill is incredibly ill-conceived. With my personal belief that dignity is rooted in autonomy, this bill produces a lack of dignity beyond belief. There seems to be zero concern for the women and mothers who will be detrimentally affected by this, not to mention their partners and families. Abbott stated that, “For a child to have a chance IN life a child must first have a chance AT life,” which, for logic’s sake, is true.
However, in case I have not been clear, this bill is not about the lives of children. This bill is about performing funerary rites for aborted or miscarried fetuses. So unless the point of this bill is to create such a financial burden for pregnant women in Texas that they choose to not have an abortion, what else is this bill here for?
This bill is also strangely lacking in any other legal or medical backing to support the argument of an attempt at dignity for an unborn child. If this is any representation of the legal competency of state leaders in this country, then I am concerned, to say the least.
In a fundraising email to his constituents, Abbott wrote, “I believe it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.” What Abbott fails to recognize is that the only lives he is including in his sanctified bill are those privileged enough not to need an abortion.
In creating and passing this bill, Abbott’s legislation said to the world that they want people to bury their children. In reality, they should be asking why people have to bury their children in the first place.