US Supreme Court Upholds Indiana Law Requiring Burial or Cremation of Aborted Babies

Photo Credit: MyMahi

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld an Indiana law that declassifies “fetal remains” from the definition of pathological waste and thereby prohibits the burning of aborted or miscarried babies in incinerators along with medical trash.

“This court has already acknowledged that a state has a ‘legitimate interest in proper disposal of fetal remains,'” the majority wrote on Tuesday, pointing back to a 1983 ruling. “The Seventh Circuit clearly erred in failing to recognize that interest as a permissible basis  for Indiana’s disposition law.”

The justices also concluded in its short opinion that “[t]he law did not affect a woman’s right under existing law ‘to determine the final disposition of the aborted fetus'” and that Planned Parenthood, which had sued to challenge the law, “never argued that Indiana’s law creates an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.”

The court said while lower courts have analyzed similar laws using the “undue burden standard,” because this was not a part of the legal challenge, the justices would not go down that path. They also noted that Tuesday’s ruling “expresses no view on the merits of those challenges.”

The ruling was 7-2, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor opposing.

As previously reported, in 2016, then-Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a bill that banned the murder of unborn children based on a Down syndrome or any other disability, and also required that “fetal remains” be buried or cremated, rather than being classified as medical waste.

Customarily, fetal remains are put into containers that are picked up by medical waste companies, which then incinerate the “pathological waste” together with other infectious waste, such as sharps and blood-soiled items. The ash is then put on a landfill.

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The nation’s most widely used medical waste company is Stericycle, which has repeatedly claimed that it does not accept fetal remains for disposal, but has been fined in several states for improper treatment and dumping of aborted babies.

It was also documented in Grand Jury findings that Stericycle had serviced now-imprisoned Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell, and the reason that incriminating evidence of babies with their necks snipped was found in Gosnell’s freezers by investigators is because he failed to pay his Stericycle bill.

“An abortion clinic or health care facility having possession of an aborted fetus shall provide for the final disposition of the aborted fetus,” the Indiana law reads. “The burial transit permit requirements … apply to the final disposition of an aborted fetus, which must be interred or cremated.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky filed suit to challenge both provisions of the law and succeeded in both the district court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

However, upon appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the majority of the justices of the nation’s highest court upheld the burial or cremation requirement, overturning a Seventh Circuit ruling that found that the State’s interest in the “humane and dignified disposal of human remains” was “not . . . legitimate.”

The court pointed back to the 1980’s when it ruled in Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc. that states have a “legitimate interest in proper disposal of fetal remains.”

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a separate concurring opinion, “I would have thought it could go without saying that nothing in the Constitution or any decision of this court prevents a state from requiring abortion facilities to provide for the respectful treatment of human remains.”

While the court declined to rule on the law’s ban on aborting children on the basis of their sex, race or disability, it noted that it only did so because “[w]e follow our ordinary practice of denying petitions insofar as they raise legal issues that have not been considered by additional Courts of Appeals.”

Sanger

Justice Thomas stated that the court, however, should soon take up such an issue, noting that the state has an interest in “preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics.” He then pointed to the history of Planned Parenthood, outlining the views of its eugenics-advocating founder Margaret Sanger.

“Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger recognized the eugenic potential of her cause. She emphasized and embraced the notion that birth control ‘opens the way to the eugenist,'” Thomas wrote in his elaborate 20-page outline. “As a means of reducing the ‘ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all,’ Sanger argued that ‘birth control . . . is really the greatest and most truly eugenic method’ of ‘human generation.'”

“It is true that Sanger was not referring to abortion when she made these statements, at least not directly,” he continued. “But Sanger’s arguments about the eugenic value of birth control in securing ‘the elimination of the unfit,’ apply with even greater force to abortion, making it significantly more effective as a tool of eugenics.”

“Whereas Sanger believed that birth control could prevent ‘unfit’ people from reproducing, abortion can prevent them from being born in the first place,” Thomas lamented, adding that a number of eugenicists consequently supported legalizing abortion, including later Planned Parenthood President Alan Guttmacher.

Read the ruling and Thomas’ concurrence in full here.


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