Supreme Court Upholds Pro-Life Law Requiring Proper Burial or Cremation for Babies Killed in Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 28, 2019   |   10:11AM   |   Washington, DC

After national controversy surrounding the Planned Parenthood abortion businesses’ sale of aborted babies and aborted baby body parts, then Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law a new measure providing that aborted babies may be buried or cremated.

The new law would help stop the kind of sale of aborted babies and their body parts that Planned Parenthood facilities in other states have been caught arranging. Although Roe v. Wade prohibits states from banning abortions, pro-life advocates in Indiana believed the aborted baby ought to at least be treated respectfully even if the abortion clinic treated the baby with disrespect before the abortion.

But Planned Parenthood sued to stop the law from being enforced and the lawsuit eventually made its way to the Supreme Court.

Today, the nation’s highest court issued an order allowing Indiana to enforce the law. The court issued an unsigned order on a 7-2 ruling with two of the court’s liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, dissenting. The Supreme Court ruled the Constitution does not prohibit states from requiring the humane and dignified disposition of human fetal remains.

Justice Ginsberg wrote a concurrence in part and dissent in part but nevertheless noted that she would deny certiorari of the whole case.  Justice Ginsberg believes that the burial provision requires a heightened standard of review stating that “the cost of, and trauma potentially induced by, a post-procedure requirement [specifically, the disposal of fetal remains] may well constitute an undue burden.”

What is more, Justice Ginsberg adds to the irony stating that “a woman who exercises her constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy is not a ‘mother.’”

“The ruling stated that the court has previously said that states have a legitimate interest in the disposal of fetal remains. The court noted that in challenging the law, Planned Parenthood did not allege that the provision implicated the right of women to obtain an abortion,” Reuters reported.

“This case, as litigated, therefore does not implicate our cases applying the undue burden test to abortion regulations,” the ruling said.

The court also blocked part of the law banning abortions on babies with Down syndrome or because of eugenics reasons.

Indiana asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck an Indiana law that required that human fetal remains be buried or cremated just like other human remains. The Court reversed the judgment of the Seventh Circuit because it “clearly erred” as the Court “has already acknowledged that a State has a ‘legitimate interest in proper disposal of fetal remains.’”

The aborted fetal remains law (SEA 329), establishes rules as to how abortion facilities must dispose of aborted babies and allows the pregnant woman to choose a different method at her own expense (i.e. burial). As testimony revealed, the Indianapolis Planned Parenthood facility was disposing of aborted babies down a drain into the sewer system, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) implemented emergency disposal rules but they were blocked until today.

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The law ensures all health-care facilities, including abortion clinics, appropriately dispose of the bodies of babies killed in abortions.

Leading pro-life advocates told LifeNews they were pleased with this part of the decision.

“AUL is delighted that the Court agreed to address this important issue,” said American United for Life’s Litigation Counsel Rachel Morrison. “Without laws like Indiana’s fetal remains law, medical providers are free to dispose of human fetal remains by incineration with medical waste, by dumping in landfills, and even by burning the remains to generate energy. Indiana’s law recognizes the simple biological fact that human fetuses are human beings and, as such, should be treated with humanity and dignity whether in life or in death.”

AUL had filed a brief saying that human fetuses are human beings, and as such, it was constitutional for Indiana to require the humane dignified disposition of human fetal remains—especially in light of reports of an Indiana waste company dumping human fetal remains in landfills.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Denise Burke also commented on the decision:

“Indiana law helps ensure that deceased unborn infants receive proper burials—a law that the high court upheld. Tragically, many states do not ensure that the bodies of miscarried, stillborn, or aborted infants are treated with dignity. Unborn infants shouldn’t be disposed of as ‘medical waste’ when they die before birth, regardless of whether their deaths are spontaneous, accidental, or induced. Further, the broken bodies of aborted infants shouldn’t be exploited for scientific experimentation. Since the horrific 2015 revelations that Planned Parenthood harvested and sold the body parts of aborted infants—including brains, hearts, livers, lungs, and muscle tissue—it has become apparent that this must be addressed in state law. No incentive or needless opportunity should exist for such gruesome exploitation.”

“This law creates rules for how to appropriately dispose of aborted fetal remains,” sponsoring legislator State Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne). “Establishing standards brings respect to the woman, abortion staff and the aborted child. These standards require the facility to dispose of the baby’s remains properly, unless the woman chooses to bury her baby. Hoosiers want their government to ensure the bodies of aborted babies are treated with dignity and this law accomplishes that.”

“We’re thankful for Gov. Pence’s commitment to the pro-life cause and for the legislators who boldly passed these bills,” said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, at the time the law was signed. “The aborted remains bill is especially timely, as Americans pause to consider what becomes of the tiny lives ended in abortion procedures. We believe the aborted remains bill provides dignity to the babies, their mothers and the abortion facility staff.

“Every Hoosier should be deeply troubled by allegations that Planned Parenthood affiliates are engaged in the trafficking of human remains. If true, this is not only illegal, it is morally reprehensible. Under federal and state law, the buying or selling of human body parts is a felony and, as Governor, I have an obligation to make sure this is not happening in Indiana,” Pence said.

According to the statement LifeNews received, Pence continued: “For this reason, I have directed the Indiana State Department of Health to conduct an immediate investigation with the cooperation of the Office of the Attorney General of Indiana to determine whether Planned Parenthood affiliates in Indiana have engaged in any illegal activities with respect to the trafficking in or disposition of fetal tissue. Whatever one’s view on the issue of abortion, Hoosiers can be assured that we will make certain that this appalling practice is not taking place in Indiana.”