Indiana asks Supreme Court to hear case banning abortion based on race
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INDIANA, October 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – With a markedly different makeup on the U.S. Supreme Court, Indiana officials are asking that the justices take up the case of a 2016 pro-life law that’s been repeatedly blocked by lower courts.
Before leaving the governorship to serve as Donald Trump’s vice president, then-Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation banning abortions motivated specifically by a baby’s race, sex, ethnicity, or potential disabilities. It also required abortionists to bury or cremate fetal remains rather than treating them as medical waste.
Abortion advocates sued, arguing in the words of the ACLU’s Ken Falk that a woman has an “absolute right as part of her privacy interests” to such abortions. A district judge sided with Planned Parenthood, and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld their injunction.
On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill asked the Supreme Court to consider House Enrolled Act 1337.
“The right to abortion declared by our Supreme Court protects only the decision not to bear a child at all, not a right to decide which child to bear," the Republican said in a press release. "States have every reason and right to prohibit abortions from being performed simply as a means of selecting the race, sex or physical condition of a child. Our nation knows only too well the bitter fruits of such discrimination."
The state is arguing that because doctors couldn’t screen for such things in 1973, the Roe court couldn’t have foreseen this use of abortion and Roe v. Wade doesn’t address it.
“Nothing in the Constitution prohibits states from requiring health facilities to provide an element of basic human dignity in disposing of fetuses,” Hill added. “These tiny bodies, after all, are in fact human remains.”
Abortion advocates argue that mandating humane disposal of fetal remains could potential impose burial costs or emotional strain on women who commit abortions. But the law requires abortionists to cover the disposal expenses unless the mother herself chooses to pursue an alternate means of burial.
“It's official! The State of Indiana has appealed the 2016 Dignity for the Unborn law to the Supreme Court!” Indiana Right to Life celebrated on social media. “Now pray the Supreme Court agrees to hear it.”
Abortion advocates were less thrilled.
"By appealing to the Supreme Court, the state of Indiana is trying to not only chip away at Hoosiers’ rights, but also threaten the rights of people seeking safe and legal abortion care across the country," Indiana Planned Parenthood CEO Christie Gillespie claimed in response to Hill’s move. Falk called it “yet another attempt by Indiana elected officials to take that decision out of a woman’s hands."
At least four justices must vote to take up a case. UPI notes that the Supreme Court only hears oral arguments in about 80 of the 7,000 to 8,000 cases submitted to it every term, but pro-lifers are hopeful the current court will be interested.
Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are considered reliable pro-lifers. John Roberts has generally ruled with conservatives but has disappointed pro-lifers on a few critical cases. Pro-lifers have been impressed with Neil Gorsuch’s first year on the court, and are hopeful but uncertain about the newest justice, Brett Kavanaugh.
If the court agrees to take the case, it might help pro-lifers in ways beyond the outcome for Indiana.
“As we are unclear about how Kavanaugh (or Gorsuch for that matter) would decide on a direct challenge to Roe, it would perhaps be beneficial to first try to test the Court with a case on a narrow issue related to abortion rather than providing a full challenge to Roe off the block,” Jonathan Abbamonte of the Population Research Institute argued last week. “A reaffirmation of Roe by the Court would significantly harm efforts to overturn it in the future.”