A federal judge blocked an Indiana law Monday that requires abortion facilities to bury or cremate aborted babies, ruling that the measure violates some women’s religious freedom.
The law passed in 2016 to ensure that abortion facilities do not sell or improperly dispose of aborted babies’ bodies. Planned Parenthood also challenged the law, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state in 2019.
On Monday, however, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young ruled that the law is unconstitutional on religious freedom and free speech grounds in response to a separate lawsuit, The Indianapolis Star reports.
“The Constitution prohibits ‘mechanisms, overt or disguised, designed to persecute or oppress a religion or its practices,’” Young wrote. “… The fetal disposition requirements (in Indiana) are contrary to that principle.”
The AP reports he granted summary judgment to the Women’s Med Group abortion facility in Indianapolis and three anonymous women who sued the state.
Their lawsuit claims the burial/cremation requirement causes women to suffer “shame, stigma, anguish and anger” by sending “the unmistakable message that someone who has had an abortion or miscarriage is responsible for the death of a person,” according to the report.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said he will appeal the ruling. His office pointed out that states are allowed to promote childbirth over abortion, and the law “safeguards human dignity,” according to the Star.
However, the judge asserted that the law goes beyond states’ rights by “compel[ling] other voices to speak its message.”
Indiana Right to Life condemned today’s ruling in comments to LifeNews.com.
“The blockage of Indiana’s humane final disposition law means all babies aborted in Indiana can be treated as common medical waste, just as they were before this law was passed,” director Mike Fichter said. “If Judge Hamilton’s reasoning is to be followed, no law passed by any legislative body could ever be upheld if even one person claims a violation of religious belief. Indiana won on this issue before the United States Supreme Court once, and we are confident the state will prevail again, but the sad reality of how the remains of aborted babies will once against be treated in our state is heartbreaking. This brings home the tragic reality of what abortion really is.”
Indiana passed the pro-life law in 2016 after an explosive undercover investigation revealed that Planned Parenthood may be illegally selling aborted baby body parts. The law ensures that abortion facilities cannot sell or improperly dispose of aborted babies by requiring that their bodies be cremated or buried, as other human beings’ are.
Indiana also has a law that bans the killing of unborn babies in abortions, with limited exceptions. The pro-life law went into effect earlier this month, but a judge blocked it a few days later in response to a lawsuit from pro-abortion groups. As a result, abortion facilities are aborting unborn babies in Indiana again.
If the abortion ban goes into effect again, pro-life leaders say it could save as many as 161 babies from abortions every single day.