The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Monday to uphold a 2016 Indiana law requiring medical providers to bury or cremate fetal remains, including those from an abortion.
“The bodies of unborn babies are more than mere medical waste to be tossed out with trash,” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a press release. “They are human beings who deserve the dignity of cremation or burial. The appellate court’s decision is a win for basic decency.”
The U.S. Supreme Court previously upheld the law in 2019 after Planned Parenthood challenged it by claiming it had violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by restricting abortion rights, according to NBC.
A year later, the law was the subject of another lawsuit that argued it infringed on the First Amendment’s free speech and free exercise clauses. U.S. District Judge Richard Young agreed and barred the state from enforcing the law until it was revived this week, according to Reuters.
The Court of Appeals on Monday argued the law did not violate an abortion patient’s right to religious liberty, as two women argued in a 2020 lawsuit, according to Reuters. The women argued the law required them to adopt the state’s view of fetal personhood. Two doctors joined the lawsuit, arguing the law made them engage in speech they disagree with when giving patients the option of burying or cremating the remains.
“A moral objection to one potential implication of the way medical providers handle fetal remains is some distance from a contention that the state compels any woman to violate her own religious tenets,” the opinion said.
This decision comes on the heels of the Indiana Senate’s July vote to ban nearly all abortions in the state, which has been temporarily blocked since Sept. 22, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.