A federal appeals court on Monday restored an Indiana statute requiring either burial or cremation of the remains of unborn children who are aborted.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that declared the state law ran afoul of the 1st Amendment. The previous court found a violation of rights for those who do not consider unborn babies as having equal protection as those who are born.
The federal appeals court said the cremate-or-bury law doesn't infringe upon individual rights because it "applies only to hospitals and clinics.” https://t.co/sFHxVAER6H
— WDBJ7 (@WDBJ7) November 29, 2022
Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote that the lower court erred in demanding that the law comply with constitutional protections since there is no 1st Amendment violation. He acknowledged that restrictions mandating people disregard their religious beliefs may “pose difficult analytical challenges.”
The 2016 Indiana law, he ruled, does not fit this criteria.
Instead, the statute only applies to hospitals and clinics, not a woman who has undergone an abortion.
Easterbrook cited a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the law governing fetal remains, which was signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence. The high court declared the state held a legitimate interest in the disposal of those remains.
The appeals court ruling was handing down in the lawsuit filed against the fetal remains law in 2020 on behalf of the Women’s Med Group abortion facility in Indianapolis. It listed as plaintiffs the clinic’s owner, a pair of nurse practitioners, and three other women.
The legal action declared that the Indiana law resulted in “shame, stigma, anguish, and anger” for those who had abortions as well as women who miscarried.
It argued further that the statute signaled that the woman “is responsible for the death of a person.”
Judge Easterbrook countered by noting that common practice before the recent law had been for medical providers to dispose of the remains as “medical waste.” Indiana, he decided, “is entitled to end that practice.”
He also ruled that the lower court nullified the high court’s decision for the entire state. Further, he contested the notion that cremation or burial implies “personhood,” stating that the same treatment applies in many instances to animals.
Indiana’s law and Easterbrook’s upholding of it merely requires a level of proper respect be afforded to unborn children. The appeals court correctly believed that the 1st Amendment had no bearing on the burial or cremation of human remains.