Justia Summary

New Indiana law altered the manner in which abortion providers may dispose of fetal remains. It excluded fetal remains from the definition of infectious and pathological waste, thereby preventing incineration of fetal remains along with surgical byproducts. It also authorized simultaneous cremation of fetal remains, which Indiana does not generally allow for human remains. The law did not affect a woman’s right under existing law “to determine the final disposition of the aborted fetus.” The Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit, upholding the provision. The law does not create an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion and does not implicate a fundamental right; it is subject only to ordinary rational basis review. The Supreme Court has previously acknowledged that a state has a “legitimate interest in proper disposal of fetal remains.” Indiana’s law is rationally related to that interest, even if it is not perfectly tailored to that end. The Court denied certiorari and declined to address the second issue, i.e., whether Indiana may prohibit the knowing provision of sex-, race-, and disability- selective abortions. Only the Seventh Circuit has addressed that kind of law and the Supreme Court ordinarily denies petitions insofar as they raise legal issues that have not been considered by additional Courts of Appeals.

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