Skip to main content

The Brief: Fetal Remains Rule Proves Divisive at Hearing

A hearing Thursday on a pending policy requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains drew witnesses from all sides of the abortion debate.

State Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, reads a letter to state health officials endorsing proposed rules on the burial of fetal remains.

The Big Conversation

At a hearing that highlighted the sharp divides that characterize the abortion debate, parties from all sides weighed in Thursday on a pending Department of State Health Services policy that would require hospitals and abortion clinics to bury or cremate any fetal remains.

As the Tribune’s Alexa Ura reports, the testimony covered questions about the logistics of the rule, as well as personal stories from women, including one who had a miscarriage after a car crash. “Health care providers, funeral directors and reproductive rights activists testified that the change would do little to improve public health and could be burdensome to women who miscarry and those seeking abortions,” Ura writes. “A contingent of anti-abortion activists and two Republican lawmakers endorsed the measure.”

The rule was quietly published for public comment on July 1, with Gov. Greg Abbott later saying that it was proposed so that fetal remains are not treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.

Chief among the complaints raised Thursday, Ura writes, were concerns about who would bear the costs associated with cremation or interment — a figure that can reach several thousand dollars in each case — and why the rule change does not allow an exception for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

Trib Must Reads

Texas High Court Carves "Monstrous Loophole" for Government Secrets, by Jim Malewitz — McAllen taxpayers cannot find out how much their city paid Enrique Iglesias to sing at a holiday concert, and that's just one example of the fallout from a Texas Supreme Court decision that is shielding many business secrets from the public.

No Ruling in Campus Carry Court Challenge, by Matthew Watkins — A federal judge wants more briefing before he decides whether to grant a request by three UT-Austin professors to halt the new law that allows license holders to carry concealed weapons in university buildings.

Harris County Sued over Disabled Voting Access, by Edgar Walters — Harris County, which includes Houston, has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because many of its polling places are inaccessible to voters with disabilities, a new lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice alleges.

In Voter ID, Redistricting Cases, Justice Takes its Time, by Ross Ramsey — After years of litigation, we have a voter ID ruling. But two years after the most recent hearings on the political maps drawn five years ago, the judges who are supposed to be ensuring access to your right to vote haven’t ruled.

An Independent in the Texas Legislature? Not for Long, by Madeline Conway and Aneri Pattani — Laura Thompson is the first Independent to serve in the Texas Legislature in more than a half-century, even though she won't be there long. The last was Howard Green, the grandfather of actor Ethan Hawke.

Trump's Bounce Fades After Democratic Convention (Podcast), by Todd Wiseman — This week on The Ticket: Jay Root and Ben Philpott revisit Donald Trump's bad week on the campaign trail, and dissect the latest polls with UT Austin pollster Jim Henson.

Campus Carry, Voter ID Dominate the Headlines (Video), by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn — In the Roundup: Texas agrees to soften its voter ID law for the November elections, the state’s new campus carry gun law quietly takes effect and state officials give the O.K. for Medicaid to pay for mosquito repellant to help combat the spread of Zika.

News From Home

•    Will Texans vote in November? Join us in August for a civic social weekend. The Texas Tribune is teaming up with the Society of News Design — and collaborators like you — to examine Texas’s low voter turnout rates, and what can be done to better engage and inform voters. Registration is free, but space is limited. See our event listing now to apply.

•    We're hiring. After nearly seven years of successful storytelling we’re considered the gold standard in nonprofit news, and we need you on our engineering team to help us refine and perfect our story-building process. For more details and requirements, click here.


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

In Texas, GOP angst rises as Donald Trump’s poll numbers slipAustin American-Statesman

S.A. congressman, a chief climate change skeptic, continues to battle environmentalistsSan Antonio Express-News

Texas lawmakers look for ways to better help abused childrenFort Worth Star-Telegram

John Wiley Price accused of using Dallas County employees to help with his criminal defense, The Dallas Morning News

Baylor player arrested Monday faced prior sexual assault claim, ESPN

Greens kick off convention with different views of success, Houston Chronicle

Unearthed stone may be tied to Alamo’s main gate, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“It goes without saying that this is an interesting case.” 

— U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, on three University of Texas at Austin professors attempt to block the state’s campus carry law

Today in TribTalk

Texas families must act to help foster children, by Kurt Senske — As a civilized, compassionate society, the welfare of our children is something for which we are all accountable.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   A Conversation with state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and state Reps. Terry Canales and Bobby Guerra on Aug. 26 at UT Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg

•   The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

•   TribFeast: A Dinner To Support Nonprofit Journalism on Sept. 24 at the University of Texas at Austin's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Four Price and John Smithee on Oct. 4 at Amarillo College in Amarillo

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Support independent Texas news

Become a member. Join today.

Donate now

Explore related story topics