Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Tuesday which not only bans dismemberment abortion in the state; it prohibits the purchase or sale of baby body parts. The law also requires that aborted remains be disposed of in a humane and respectful way.
In the past, aborted children have been disposed of as waste products in sewer systems. A person may also not donate human fetal tissue from an elective abortion.
As described by Texas Right to Life, “In a dismemberment abortion, the child is killed in utero by being torn limb from limb while his or her heart is still beating.” The pro-life organization notes that the dismemberment abortion ban received 95 percent support of the voting delegates at the Republican Party of Texas convention in 2016.
The law makes it a state jail felony for a physician or any other person to knowingly perform a partial-birth abortion. The father of the unborn child, or a parent of a mother of a fetus that is under 18 years of age at the time of such an abortion, may bring a civil action for money and exemplary damages. There is an exception for the prohibition against dismemberment abortions deemed necessary because of a medical emergency.
The author of the bill, Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), said the law will “ensure the dignity and protection for the unborn child” in the State of Texas.
As amended in the Texas House on May 19, Senate Bill 8 will be effective on September 1, 2017. The bill gathered bipartisan support where twenty authors and coauthors in the Texas Senate, and eighty sponsors and cosponsors in the Texas House signed onto the measure.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick declared the passage of SB 8 and a partial-birth abortion ban and increased criminal penalties for buying or selling human fetal tissue to be one of his top ten legislative priorities.
“The barbaric practice of ripping unborn children apart while their heart is still beating has finally been stopped in Texas,” said Nicole Hudgens, Policy Analyst for Texas Values. “In addition, the body parts of unborn children will no longer be sold for profit, a partial-birth abortion ban will now adequately be enforced, and the human dignity of aborted children will be recognized.”
“Texas Right to Life celebrates SB 8 being signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. The most important part of Senate Bill 8 is the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, which is a dynamic and critical tool for the pro-life movement to educate the public about the violent nature of abortion and legally challenge some of the core judicial fallacies of Roe v. Wade,” Legislative Director John Seago told Breitbart Texas.
Nineteen other states are currently enforcing partial-birth abortion bans. More have passed it, Seago said, and the bans have been held up in court. Texas is the eighth state to have a dismemberment abortion ban, joining Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has already tipped his hand about the legality of the partial-birth abortion ban. The attorney general joined Louisiana on March 17 in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit supporting an Alabama law prohibiting dismemberment abortions. Paxton released a statement at the time saying:
It is a solemn day when we must fight not for human life, but for the minimum respect owed to human life in an already difficult situation. Dismemberment methods of abortion are callous, cold and demonstrate a complete lack of respect for human life. In a country where the horror of abortion has already become normalized, if this practice goes unregulated, the balance between women’s reproductive rights and the risk of devaluing human life will be scattered to the wind.
Texas joined a coalition led by Louisiana in filing the brief. Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah all joined in the filing of the brief.
Senate Bill 8 requires that an authorized facility that donates human fetal tissue for research to an accredited public or private institution of higher education must submit an annual report to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The report must include the specific type of fetal tissue donated, and the accredited public or private institution of higher education that received the donation. A doctor who performs an abortion at an abortion facility must submit a monthly report to the department on each abortion he or she performs at the abortion facility.
The remains of aborted unborn children must be cremated or buried. As reported by Breitbart Texas in December 2016, a new regulation in Texas requiring the respectful disposition of these remains was proposed. The new regulation changed existing law to remove allowance for deposing the fetal remains in a “sanitary landfill,” or “grinding and discharging [them] to a sanitary sewer system.” Texas Governor Abbott has steadfastly maintained that the remains of fetuses should not be “treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.” “It is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.”