A federal judge has blocked Indiana’s abortion burial and cremation law.
Monday, Indiana Southern District Judge Richard Young ruled to block the 2016 law, which required patients and doctors to either bury or cremate the fetal remains after an abortion or miscarriage.
The case began in 2020 when three anonymous patients, an abortion clinic and medical group, and a medical director and nurse filed the suit against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.
Judge Young agreed with the plaintiffs, claiming that the law disregarded patient’s religious beliefs and first amendment rights.
The court filing describes one patient, named as Doe 3, and how the law directly interfered with their religious beliefs.
“Specifically, Doe 3 explained that as a matter of her Baptist faith she understands the Bible to indicate that ‘life begins at the first breath, following birth’ rather than in the womb. Accordingly, Doe 3 believes that ‘burial and cremation are religious rituals reserved for people and animals with souls.’… Not only do her religious beliefs prohibit her from “burying or cremating the tissue from my abortion,” but they also require “that the tissue should be treated like any other human tissue resulting from a medical procedure and disposed of by standard medical means.”
Judge Young agreed that the state of Indiana can voice a preference for childbirth over abortion, but cannot force that on patients.
After the ruling Rupali Sharma, director of the Lawyering Project which is the group that represented the plaintiffs, says, “Today’s ruling is a potent reminder that people do not lose cherished rights under the First Amendment the moment they become pregnant and a victory for those seeking and providing vital pregnancy care. Hoosiers will not sit idly by while politicians work to erase their rights and disregard their dignity in service of their ideological agendas.”
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