Judge asks if Texas fetal remains rules override current law

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge appears to be casting doubt on the legality of new Texas rules requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains, questioning whether they override existing state cremation laws.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks on Wednesday pressed state attorneys on whether Texas believes fetal tissue is different from "human remains." When the reply was yes, Sparks said: "So you're bringing dignity to non-human remains?"

State health rules seek to ban as "undignified" the disposing of remains from abortions and miscarriages as biological medical waste, meaning they usually go to sanitary landfills.

But state law already allows scattering ashes on any private property, which can include landfills. Texas contends that that only applies to human remains, not fetal tissue.

Sparks has blocked the rules while hearing evidence on them.