May 28, 2019
Pro-choice groups called a U.S. Supreme Court decision on a restrictive abortion law a "mixed ruling" on Tuesday, expressing relief that the court did not rule on whether women should be permitted abortion care in certain situations but decrying the ruling's overall message about women's right to choose abortion.
In a 7-2 ruling, the court upheld part of an Indiana law--signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence in 2016--which requires abortion providers to cremate or bury fetal remains instead of disposing of them in medical offices with other medical waste. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
NARAL Pro-Choice America argued Tuesday that the law has no legitimate purpose, a point the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had made in an earlier ruling. Forcing medical providers to add another step to obtaining abortion care creates a new barrier for women, NARAL said.
"This law does absolutely nothing to improve healthcare," the group tweeted. "It's meant to shame women and cut off access by driving up the costs of an abortion procedure."
\u201cBREAKING: SCOTUS has upheld a restriction on abortion in Indiana signed by none other than Mike Pence. This law does absolutely NOTHING to improve healthcare. It's meant to shame women and cut off access by driving up the costs of an abortion procedure. https://t.co/9jN8C6Evu4\u201d— NARAL (@NARAL) 1559053808
Lawyer Amee Vanderpool wrote on Twitter that the ruling "gives credence to another argument down the road that a fetus has rights similar to a living human," and could threaten Roe v. Wade.
\u201cthe fact that SCOTUS has specified that a fetus must be buried in the same manner as a human and is not classified as medical waste, now gives credence to another argument down the road that a fetus has rights similar to a living human. 5/\u201d— Amee Vanderpool (@Amee Vanderpool) 1559051898
\u201cSCOTUS will now be able to draw on this case as precedent in deciding abortion laws later on (think Heartbeat Bill) by arguing that a fetus has rights comparable to living persons. \n\nIt's a direct signal that portions of Roe v. Wade are in jeopardy. 6/ https://t.co/bLr3OlEHdI\u201d— Amee Vanderpool (@Amee Vanderpool) 1559051898
The court declined to hand down a decision on another portion of the fetal remains law, which would prohibit women in Indiana from obtaining abortions in certain situations, including to terminate a pregnancy because of fetal abnormalities.
The court "expresses no view on the merits" of the issue, the ruling reads, of "whether Indiana may prohibit the knowing provision of sex-, race-, and disability-selective abortions by abortion providers."
But, Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote in a 20-page opinion, the court "will soon need to confront the constitutionality of a law like Indiana's" due to what he saw as "the potential for abortion to become a tool of eugenic manipulation."
Thomas's opinion along with the court's decision to uphold the fetal remains law amounted to "a rhetorical assault against women who get abortions," wrote lawyer and journalist Mark Joseph Stern.
The ACLU applauded the high court's decision not to rule on situations in which women in Indiana should be denied the right to abortion care, but called the decision a "mixed ruling.
The court, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project director Jennifer Dalven said, "let another unwarranted restriction on abortion stand."
"While the ruling is limited, the law is part of a larger trend of state laws designed to stigmatize and drive abortion care of out of reach," said Dalven.
\u201cWhether it's a total ban or a law designed to shut down clinics, politicians are lining up to decimate access to abortion.\n\nWe will continue our fight to ensure that every person who needs an abortion can get one \u2014 without shame, stigma, or unnecessary obstacles.\u201d— ACLU (@ACLU) 1559055490
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