The Brief: Fetal remains burial rule delayed again

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The Big Story

After two days of hearings in a lawsuit over whether Texas should be allowed to put its fetal remains burial rule into effect, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks on Wednesday moved to delay implementation of the rule for another three weeks while he comes to a final decision. Here’s the story:

Sparks had initially indicated he would reach a decision by Friday, but after attorneys for the state of Texas and the Center for Reproductive Rights made their closing remarks, he said he would need more time to review evidence and witness testimony before making a final ruling about the state’s effort to require medical providers to bury or cremate aborted fetuses. Sparks also cited scheduling issues for sentencing cases and an upcoming Planned Parenthood hearing on its Medicaid status.

Attorneys on both sides faced strong questioning about the evidence they were presenting. Sparks asked state attorneys for a better explanation of the logic behind barring providers from incinerating fetal remains, a medical waste procedure the state has long allowed and told attorneys with the Center for Reproductive Rights that he wanted them to identify from their evidence and witness testimony how the rule is unconstitutional and how it would create a burden for women.

Sparks said neither side had made headway on establishing how providers’ costs would be affected if the rule were implemented. Cost continued to be a pain point for both sides Wednesday as neither could determine how much providers would have to pay for separating fetal remains or for paying for extra transportation to get the remains to nonprofit and religious organizations willing to help cremate and bury them. While both sides had varying estimates, both acknowledged that their numbers could be lower than what providers may actually pay.

What We’re Reading

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

Trump pick for secretary of state reaches $180 million payout deal with Exxon, Washington Post

Senator Whitmire’s Pension Provocations, Texas Monthly

Despite indictments, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton boasts near-record fundraising numbers,Dallas Morning News

Sid Miller and Susan Combs disagree on healthy food, McClatchy Newspapers

State Senator advising Dallas Police-Fire Pension board, My Fox DW

Behind fence, Mexico’s notorious Juarez is wary of Trump’s wall, Reuters

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   Trivia Night on Jan. 8 at The Highball 

•   A Conversation with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Jan. 11 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with the University of Houston’s Renu Khator on Jan. 12 at The Austin Club

•   A Symposium on Race and Public Policy on Jan. 13 at Huston-Tillotson University

•   A Conversation with Reps. Dustin Burrows & Drew Darby on Jan. 19 at Howard College – West Texas Training Center

•   A Conversation on Mental Health on Jan. 26 at The Austin Club

•   A Conversation with Sen. Kel Seliger & Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Feb. 17 at Odessa College – Saulsbury Campus Center

•   A Conversation with Reps. Senfronia Thompson & James White on March 31 at Prairie View A&M University – W.A. Tempton Memorial Student Center


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