HB 1155: Disrespectful of the human body

Jennifer Carr Allmon

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops opposes HB 1155. We oppose this bill because it allows for the cremation of human remains using alkaline hydrolysis. The dehydration of human remains in a vat of chemicals is disrespectful of the human body and does not allow for burial of the body.

Treating the dead with respect is a duty of the living and a right of the dead and this bill fails to treat the dead with respect. Proponents of alkaline hydrolysis claim that the end result is similar to that of cremation, some remains of bones can be buried. What they fail to explain is that there is also a large volume of liquid, approximately 100 gallons, in which the rest of the body has been dissolved. Usually the liquid is poured into the sewer. This is exactly the practice that the Governor and others in this Legislature are trying to end for unborn children. For this committee to approve of this method of disposition would be a direct contradiction to the state’s profound respect for human life and human remains.

Proponents also claim this procedure has a reduced carbon footprint. If a dehydration process is added to this to avoid pouring the liquid remains down the sewer, it would negate any comparative ecological advantage.

Finally, some may claim this process is a less expensive method of disposal of human remains. Respect and reverence for human bodies must not be sacrificed for a cheaper, quicker disposition for medical research facilities. We must treat the remains of all human beings, no matter how long they lived or how they died, with dignity, charity, and respect. Chemical digestion of the human body fails to follow this simple principle.

Our respect for the dignity of the dead is an extension of our respect for the dignity of the living.  People with and without faith have always understood this. This respect conforms practices of people of goodwill across the world, who treat the dead with respect and charity.