By WILL WEISSERT
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A federal judge has again blocked Texas rules mandating burial or cremation of fetal remains, in a victory for abortion-rights groups.
Austin-based U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled Friday that the health department regulations had no public health benefit and could unduly burden women seeking abortions.
The rules would have banned hospitals and abortion clinics from disposing of fetal remains as biological medical waste, usually meaning they are incinerated and placed in sanitary landfills.
They were set to take effect in December, but Sparks issued restraining orders. He then heard two days of testimony before reaching his verdict. Federal courts previously blocked similar measures in Louisiana and Indiana.
Texas first proposed the rules in July, just after the U.S. Supreme Court voided many of the state's larger abortion restrictions.