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Supreme Court on Indiana Abortion Law

This is just a short little post on the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday on Indiana's abortion law. See this Washington Post article for details.

Indiana passed a law that said that all fetal remains needed to be buried or cremated just like any other human remains. What was happening to the remains before the law? It was being treated as biowaste. And, if miscarriages were happening at home, the tissue was just going down the toilet if the patient didn't collect it do take to the doctor.

This is a TRAP law, a "Targeted Restriction of Abortion Providers" law. Basically, the lawmakers are trying to nibble around the edges of abortion to reduce the number of abortions. This would make abortion more difficult by increasing the cost of the procedure.

The unintended consequence is that it increases the cost of healthcare elsewhere by mandating that women who have miscarriages now have to make sure that the products of conception (the fetus) are properly disposed of. It's an inconvenience, but it also costs money to someone because the hospitals and clinics who handle this tissue now have to pass it on to be buried or burned, which costs money.

Abortion opponents, though, also got something else that they wanted. By classifying the products of conception that are expelled from the uterus during miscarriage and abortion as needing to be buried or cremated, they have moved a step closer to classifying the fetus as a full-fledged person. The semantics are important here. If the fetus, even at 5 or 6 weeks is a person, then it deserves the full protection of the law. If, though, it is just a fetus that can be disposed of as biowaste, then we can think of it as just another kind of biological tissue. Words are important.

The Supreme Court chose not to take up the rest of the bill which the lower court reversed. This section of the bill prohibited abortions based on sex or disability of the fetus. The lower court said that the state did not have the right to invade the private medical decisions of a woman and that this section of the bill could not stand. What is interesting is that Justice Clarence Thomas said that abortion for sex or disability smacks of eugenics. The problem here is that eugenics is when the state makes the decisions about birth or death based on a desired population outcome. When a woman makes her own choices, it cannot be called eugenics. In any case, there will be other abortion cases coming before the Supreme Court in the next session.

Your thoughts?

Catherine