The United States Supreme Court reached a decision in a controversial Indiana abortion law that would require fetal remains after an abortion procedure to be buried or cremated.
“The court’s review of Indiana’s abortion law was a split decision, issued without hearing oral arguments, and one which keeps abortion off the docket for now,” ABC News reports. And:
The justices concluded 7-2 that the state of Indiana has a “legitimate interest in the proper disposal of fetal remains” and that a requirement to bury or cremate an aborted fetus does not impose an “undue burden” on access to abortion.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor both would have let stand a lower court ruling blocking the provision. In a dissent, Ginsburg argues that disposition of fetal remains “implicates” the right of a woman to access an abortion “without undue interference from the state.”
Reuters reports the Supreme Court ruled the remains of an aborted child are still the remains of a human and are to be buried or cremated:
Both provisions were part of a Republican-backed 2016 law signed by Vice President Mike Pence when he was Indiana’s governor. The action by the justices comes at a time when numerous Republican-governed states including Alabama are approving restrictive abortion laws that the Supreme Court may be called upon to rule on in the future.
In an unsigned ruling, with two of the nine-member court’s liberals dissenting, the Supreme Court decided that a lower court was wrong to conclude that Indiana’s fetal burial provision, which imposed new requirements on abortion clinics, had no legitimate purpose. The court has a 5-4 conservative majority.
The fetal burial ruling stated that the Supreme Court has previously said that states have a legitimate interest in the disposal of fetal remains. The court noted that in challenging the law, women’s healthcare and abortion provider Planned Parenthood did not allege that the provision implicated the right of women to obtain an abortion.
“This case, as litigated, therefore does not implicate our cases applying the undue burden test to abortion regulations,” the ruling said.
According to the report, the justices unanimously declined to review a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that previously invalidated Indiana’s ban on abortion on the basis of sex, race, or disability.
The justices “express no view on the merits” of the law which prevents the “selective” abortions as it imposes an “undue burden” on the pregnant woman.
Here’s more from ABC News:
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
The justices make clear they are not taking a position on the merits of the case, but rather denying consideration of the appeal because of “our ordinary practice of denying petitions insofar as they raise legal issues that have not been considered by additional courts of appeals.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, wrote that “further percolation” of the issue was necessary but made clear that he is inclined to uphold Indiana’s ban.
“This law and other laws like it promote a state’s compelling interest in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics,” he wrote.