INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana law that requires abortion clinics to either bury or cremate fetal remains will remain in effect after the U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to consider a lawsuit challenging it.
The court gave no explanation for its decision in an order it issued turning down hearings in several dozen cases.
That action will leave in place the law first adopted by Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature in 2016 and signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence.
The Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in November overturned an Indiana judge’s decision that the law infringed upon the religious and free speech rights of people who do not believe aborted fetuses deserve the same treatment as deceased people. The appeals court said the law didn’t require any woman to violate her beliefs as it only applied to hospitals or clinics.
The appeals court cited a 2019 ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the fetal remains provisions of the law and that the state had a legitimate interest in how those remains are disposed.
The latest lawsuit against the fetal remains law was filed in 2020 on behalf of the Women’s Med Group abortion clinic in Indianapolis, its owner, two nurse practitioners who work at the clinic and three women.
Rupali Sharma, senior counsel at the New York-based Lawyering Project, which represented the group, said in a statement Monday that it was disappointed with the court’s order. Sharma said the group believed it “remains blatantly unconstitutional” for the state to force upon people its views about when life begins.
Indiana’s Republican attorney general has defended the law as recognizing fetal remains as more than medical waste and deserving of cremation or burial.
Indiana lawmakers last summer adopted a statewide abortion ban, but abortions have continued to be permitted in the state while awaiting an Indiana Supreme Court decision on the ban’s constitutionality.