The Mission, Texas Police Department’s decision to investigate the report of a discovery of fetal remains in an apartment complex demonstrates that the criminalization of abortion care stokes legal misunderstanding, makes common pregnancy outcomes suspect, and has an adverse impact on those who do not have access to health care.
Although Texas law criminalizes doctors and others who provide or facilitate abortion care to pregnant people in Texas, it contains important exclusions. Texas law does not permit criminal prosecution of the pregnant person. Simply put, no person in Texas should be prosecuted for pregnancy loss, or even for intentionally ending their own pregnancy.
Additionally, pregnancy loss is common. According to the March of Dimes, as many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. In Hidalgo County, where Mission is located, 30 percent of the residents under 65 lack medical insurance—compared with 19 percent of all Texans and 11 percent of the U.S. population. As a result, many pregnant people are unable to obtain medical care for their pregnancy, including for any pregnancy loss.
Given that pregnant people are excluded from prosecution for their own pregnancy outcomes and the high likelihood that fetal remains in a residence are a result of involuntary pregnancy loss, the Mission Police Department would be hard-pressed to find a crime to investigate. We encourage the police to cease the investigation and not risk violating the rights or trust of its community members.