Five Quick Facts About The Indiana SCOTUS Ruling

1. The Supreme Court ruled on two separate parts of Indiana’s Dignity for the Unborn Act (HEA 1337) signed into law by then-Governor Mike Pence in 2016:

1) The requirement that aborted babies be treated humanely by disposition of burial or cremation; and

2) A prohibition on abortions solely for the purpose of an unborn child’s race, sex, national origin, potential disability or Down syndrome.

2. The Court reversed a Seventh Circuit ruling that blocked Indiana law requiring the humane disposal of aborted babies through burial or cremation. Since 1973 and until this ruling, aborted babies in Indiana have been treated as common medical waste or garbage. One former abortion clinic employee testified before an Indiana legislative committee that she watched aborted babies being flushed down a drain into the Indianapolis sewer system.

3. The Supreme Court decided not to consider the issue concerning the civil rights protections, but did leave the issue open for future consideration, noting, “Our opinion likewise expresses no view on the merits of the second question presented, i.e., whether Indiana may prohibit the knowing provision of sex, race, and disability selective abortions by abortion providers. Only the Seventh Circuit has thus far addressed this kind of law. We follow our ordinary practice of denying petitions insofar as they raise legal issues that have not been considered by additional Courts of Appeals.”

4. The Court’s opinion was issued per curiam, meaning an opinion by the Court as a whole that does not identify any particular justice as the author. Justice Thomas wrote a concurring opinion while Justice Ginsberg wrote a dissenting and concurring opinion stating she would have denied Indiana’s petition for review in its entirety. Justice Sotomayor stated separately that she would have denied the petition in its entirety.

5. The Court is also expected to decide soon if it will hear Indiana’s appeal on another provision of HEA 1337 requiring that a woman considering an abortion be provided with the opportunity to view an ultrasound of her unborn baby at least 18 hours prior to an abortion. The ultrasound provision is currently blocked by the Seventh Circuit, leading to a rise in abortions in Indiana.

Supreme Court Recognizes Humanity of Unborn in Indiana’s Fetal Remains Law

Denial to Hear Indiana’s Unborn Civil Rights Law is Disappointing, but Court May Hear Issue in the Future

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an order reversing the judgment of the Seventh Circuit regarding the disposition of fetal remains by abortion providers and establishing a victory for the pro-life movement. Unfortunately, it also denied hearing a second Indiana provision, the portion of the 2016 Dignity for the Unborn Law that prohibits abortions because of the child’s sex, race, national origin or a potential disability, like Down syndrome.

“The Supreme Court gave the pro-life movement a major victory by upholding Indiana’s fetal remains law,” said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “The court sided with Indiana that unborn human remains must receive dignified disposal. Humane disposal takes us one step closer to recognizing the dignity of unborn children. Aborted children may no longer be treated as medical waste or garbage. Instead, these precious lives will be required by law to receive a burial or cremation.

“We are deeply disappointed the Supreme Court denied certiorari of the civil rights portion of the Dignity Law. Indiana was on the cutting edge of extending civil rights protections to the unborn. Justice Clarence Thomas made clear in his remarks that the issue of civil rights protections for the unborn must be addressed by the Supreme Court. He called out Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain, for using abortions to further eugenics. We are hopeful one day the Supreme Court will recognize the civil rights of the unborn.

“Here we now have a troubling dichotomy that cannot stand: on one hand we recognize aborted children have dignity and are not garbage, on the other hand the court refuses the inherent, God-given dignity of each unborn child by recognizing their civil rights. This once again places Roe on a collision course with itself. Rest assured, Indiana will continue leading the charge in the effort to protect life.”

A provision of the Dignity for the Unborn Law regarding ultrasounds was appealed separately to the Supreme Court. The Court has not given any indication on how it will rule on that case.

Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion.

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