Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt


Primary Content

(REVISED 07.20.2018) The Center for Reproductive Rights filed new litigation against the state of Texas over unconstitutional new regulations that mandate the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnancy surgery – regardless of the woman’s personal wishes or beliefs.

The politically-motivated rules are designed to restrict a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortion by increasing both the cost of reproductive health care services and the shame and stigma surrounding abortion and pregnancy loss.

The lawsuit demands that the state halt implementation of regulations finalized late last month by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The final rules disregard widespread objection from medical organizations, legal experts and others who argue that these unconstitutional new restrictions offer no public health or safety benefit.

Plaintiff(s): Whole Woman’s Health, Brookside Women’s Medical Center PA d/b/a Brookside Women’s Health Center and Austin Women’s Health Center, Dr. Lendol L. Davis, Alamo City Surgery Center PLLC d/b/a Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, and Nova Health Systems, Inc. d/b/a Reproductive Services

Attorney(s):  Molly Duane, Autumn Katz

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Patrick J. O\'Connell &amp, Jan Soifer, O’Connell &amp, Soifer LLP, J. Alexander Lawrence, Morrison &amp, Foerster LLP


The Center filed a lawsuit in federal court on December 12, 2016 challenging Texas Department of State Health Services regulations that require embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnant surgery to be buried or cremated. Following a hearing, the trial court granted our request for a preliminary injunction on January 27, 2017 and the regulations were blocked from taking effect.

The Texas legislature then passed a new statute similarly restricting the disposal of fetal tissue.  On December 22, 2017, we filed an amended complaint to add claims regarding the new statute and to once again requst a preliminary injunction.  On January 29, 2018, the trial court again blocked the new rules from taking effect.  A trial on the merits of the law then took place in July 2018.  We are now awaiting a ruling.