If there's one thing the Texas legislature has gotten good at in recent years, it's coming up with creative ways to decimate access to abortion across the state, even when that means passing restrictions that are unconstitutional. As a result, many Texas residents have pushed back against extreme anti-choice regulations — even when the fight could get messy.
Indeed, "messy" seems to be exactly the word to describe a protest that's been flooding social media this week in response to a new Texas rule, which requires all miscarried or aborted fetal tissue to be cremated or buried.
An unknown organizer is asking people to send their used menstrual products to Gov. Greg Abbott for testing, just to make sure Texans aren't accidentally violating the law when they throw away bloody tampons or pads during their periods. After all, the eggs they're disposing could be fertilized.
Under stipulations that state health officials proposed in July, Texas hospitals and abortion providers will be prohibited from disposing fetal remains in sanitary landfills, per existing protocol. Instead, beginning Dec. 19, reproductive health care providers will be required to cremate or bury the remains of fertilized embryos.
Although hospitals and clinics will be responsible for ensuring proper disposal, the cost of burial could trickle down to patients who receive dilation and evacuation procedures, which are used for many second trimester abortions as well as miscarriages. Health officials have insisted the rule will not apply to fetuses that are miscarried naturally or aborted at home, but some reproductive rights advocates are choosing to offer up those remains in protest.
In a Facebook post shared by reproductive rights advocate Ele Chupik, organizers are encouraging people who "aren't sure about the fertilized status" of soiled menstrual products and "indefinitely ruined underpants" to mail those items straight to Abbott, an outspoken abortion foe. Mic reached out to Abbott's office but has not yet heard back.
In July, Abbott expressed support for the fetal burial rule, insisting he doesn't believe human and fetal remains "should be treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills" in an email to his supporters. However, according to the governor's view that life begins at conception — a view shared by many of his anti-abortion compatriots in the statehouse — a significant proportion of Texans are flushing "unborn persons" down the toilet during each menstrual cycle. Research has shown nearly one-third of all conceptions end in miscarriage, typically before people know they are pregnant.
So, to avoid unknowingly participating in a practice Texas officials have taken steps to eliminate, people now have another option for following the rules: They can capture Aunt Flow in an envelope and send it off to Austin.