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By Pete Williams

Women's rights groups said they would file a court challenge Monday to the latest attempt by Texas legislators to restrict access to abortion.

Under a law that takes effect December 19, embryonic and fetal tissue resulting from abortions must be buried or cremated, regardless of the woman's religious beliefs or personal wishes.

The state's Republican governor, Greg Abbott, approved the legislation. He said fetal tissue remains should not be "treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills."

But the Center for Reproductive Rights, and other groups, in announcing they would file the legal challenge, said the rules were designed "to restrict a woman's right to access safe and legal abortions by increasing the cost of reproductive health care services and the shame and stigma surrounding abortion and pregnancy loss."

The rules also apply to miscarriages, though not to those that take place at home, according to the state health department. Abortion clinics typically use special medical waste services to dispose of fetal remains.

The requirements were proposed less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down Texas laws requiring that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and that abortion clinics conform to the same building standards as walk-in surgical centers.

The court said the rules imposed obstacles to a woman's right of access to abortion without any medical benefits.

Texas officials received more than 35,000 public comments after the rules were proposed in July, and witnesses offered mixed views at a hearing in August. A rape victim said requiring her to bury the fetus would amount to "the state of Texas rubbing my face in my own rape." But another woman said burying a fetus after a miscarriage gave her a sense of peace.