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The Brief: Texas Won't Budge on Fetus Burial Rule

Texas won’t budge on a proposed rule that requires the cremation or burial of fetal remains — even in instances of miscarriages — overruling objections from the medical community, reproductive rights advocates and funeral directors.

Health care providers, reproductive rights activists and anti-abortion groups attended a hearing on a proposed state rule that would require the cremation or burial of fetal remains.

The Big Conversation 

Texas won’t budge on a proposed rule that requires the cremation or burial of fetal remains — even in instances of miscarriages — overruling objections from the medical community, reproductive rights advocates and funeral directors.

The rules were first published at the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, who said in a fundraising email that he doesn't believe fetal remains should be “treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.” Many in the medical community disagree, however, saying they’re outraged that state leaders plan to enact the legislation and have concerns over who will pay for the cremations and funerals.

As the Tribune’s Alexa Ura reports, medical providers — including the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association — also question why the rule does not allow an exception for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

The rules are set to be published in the Texas Register on Sept. 30; however, they will most likely be challenged in court. Last month, reproductive rights lawyers sent a letter to health officials warning that the proposal “will almost certainly trigger costly litigation.”

Disclosure: The Texas Medical Association and Texas Hospital Association have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: Hold or Fold on Trump? Cruz Has 45 Days, by Ross Ramsey — Some Republicans would like to see U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz change his position and endorse GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. That would require some difficult political acrobatics, but it's still possible.

On Abbott's Watch, the Fight for the Soul of Texas Universities Has Cooled, by Matthew Watkins — Since Gov. Greg Abbott took office, the fight over former Gov. Rick Perry's "seven solutions" for higher education in Texas has faded. 

Lawmaker Unveils Vision for Austin State Hospital, by Nicole Cobler — State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, on Thursday proposed creating an "MD Anderson of the brain" on the site of the troubled Austin State Hospital.

The Day Ahead

•   It's finally here. This weekend marks the sixth edition of the Texas Tribune Festival, an event chock full of activity with more than 60 sessions dealing with topics as diverse as race and law enforcement, climate change, and the 2016 presidential election. We're also baking in a few special events for your enjoyment, such as a special dinner with The New York Times' Maureen Dowd to benefit nonprofit journalism and a special edition of The Washington Post's Politics & Pints with Chris Cillizza. For more information on how to attend, click here. And for those looking to participate from afar, check out our Facebook Live and Livestream feeds where you will find many of our sessions being streamed online.


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

Dallas GOP interviewing DA replacement candidates, WFAA

Precinct 4 evidence destruction report describes deeper problems, Houston Chronicle 

Cruz internet crusade left out of Senate spending bill, The Dallas Morning News 

Adler announces crowdsourced investment fund to save live music venues, Austin American-Statesman 

Nico LaHood to speak at autism conference in Dallas, San Antonio Express-News

UH Poll: Clinton leads Trump by 10 in Harris County, Houston Chronicle 

Fracking caused Texas earthquakes, according to space-based radar, Bloomberg 

Quote to Note

"I have tremendous respect for Sen. Cruz and I spent a little bit of time with him over coffee when I was in Washington about a week back. We had a great visit. He's a strong, conservative leader and an important national voice in the conservative moment and my commitment is I'm going to continue to work to earn his support for our team, and for our nominee." 

Mike Pence, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, engaging in some fence-mending on Thursday with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz

Today in TribTalk

Impulse to conserve the Constitution could block Texas' call for a convention, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank — Comparatively higher levels of support among liberals for a constitutional convention might well reinforce conservative impulses to defend the status quo — the threat of liberal change could outweigh the promise of changes justified in the name of conservatism.

Dancing with Democracy, by Martin Frost — While former Gov. Rick Perry may be cha-cha-ing on Dancing with the Stars, it's the cha-ching of the 2016 presidential campaign Texans should remember.

News From Home

•    The Tribune's editor-in-chief, Emily Ramshawwill soon take a seat on the Pulitzer Prize board — one of the most sought-after gigs in the news industry. She will join the 18 other members in choosing the winners of the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes each year in journalism, books, drama and music.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•   The Texas Response To Zika on Oct. 18 at BCBSTX Headquarters in Richardson

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Andrew Murr and Jason Isaac on Nov. 14 at Schreiner University in Kerrville

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