The Satanic Temple is threatening to file a lawsuit against the state of Texas over new regulations that require abortion providers to either bury or cremate aborted babies, arguing that the rules violate the group’s religious beliefs because it promotes the idea of “fetal personhood.”
As Texas’ Department of Health and Human Services finalized the new rules last month that will take effect on Dec. 19 and require hospitals and abortion clinics to dispose of aborted babies through burial or cremation, The Satanic Temple based in Salem, Massachusetts, released a statement on its website Saturday decrying the rule.
The statement argues that the new rule, not a legislatively passed law, conflicts with religious liberties because “burial rites are a ‘well-established component of religious practice.'”
“This is undisputed in the entirety of [United States’] 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 statement reads. “The First Amendment protects our right to practice our beliefs, and under the Religious Freedom Reform Act, the state must present a compelling reason for why they want to enforce rules that inhibit adherence to our religious practices.”
The rule comes after the Illinois-based waste management company Stericycle and two abortion clinics were fined over $40,000 in 2011 for illegally disposing of fetal remains in a municipal landfill.
Although pro-choice advocates claim that Texas’ new rules will increase the cost of disposing of fetal remains, saying that it could cost $2,000 per procedure, pro-life advocates argue that “any increased cost will be minimal.”
“Stericycle already contracts for the disposal for a number of abortion clinics. We expect they will likely make arrangements with cemeteries for common burials (not the more expensive individual burials we have seen in news reports) or cremation. Because these babies are usually very tiny, any increased cost will be minimal,” Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life Coalition, told CP in an email on Tuesday.
“Ensuring compliance from the abortion industry, however, whether the rules are new or old, requires constant vigilance.”