By Janet Stephenson
On May 28, 2019, dignity for unborn human life took another step forward towards recognition by the Supreme Court in its decision on Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc. In their ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed Indiana legislation (HEA 1337) that prohibited treating fetal remains after an abortion as trash, mandating that such remains must be disposed of by burial or cremation. However, it was not a complete victory. Regarding the part of the suppressed Indiana Act in question which also prohibited abortions based on sex, race, or disability, the Supreme Court refused to consider arguments until other Courts of Appeals have made rulings, as per the conditions in the Supreme Court’s Rule 10.
The part of HEA 1337 that was affirmed dealt with the disposal of human remains after an abortion, mandating their respectful disposition afterward. Those that abort the unborn in Indiana, can no longer simply throw them into the trash, but must dispose of the remains, as a human being, by either interment or cremation. Abortion providers additionally must allow the mother the right to assume complete responsibility of the final disposition of her unborn child. Although the federal government does not yet recognize the unborn as persons given rights under the law, they are human beings that are due the respect of burial or cremation, rather than simply thrown away as pathological waste, and the Supreme Court has confirmed that states can make determinations as to how victims of abortion should be treated after their life has been terminated.
In this decision, the Supreme Court concluded that individual states have a legitimate interest in how fetal remains are disposed of and that the Seventh Circuit erred in striking down the Indiana law. Although this was a victory for human dignity, it did not touch on the personhood of the unborn, only on the interests of the state in how fetal remains could be disposed of. There is still a long way to go before unborn human beings are recognized as persons in the eyes of the law.
Pro-abortionist reaction was typical. The ruling only touched on states’ rights to determine the disposal of human fetuses after abortion and did not touch on, in any way, access to abortion. Even so, Jennifer Dalven, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, stated that “Today the Court let another unwarranted restriction on abortion stand,” and Ken Falk, Legal Director at the ACLU of Indiana said, “We will continue to fight to ensure Hoosiers have safe access to abortion.” For these pro-abortionists, even the respectful disposal of the remains of abortion victims is too much of a hindrance. They will not be satisfied until even the thought that the unborn is a human being deserving of a modicum of respect has been removed from society.
In a concurring opinion with the Court’s decision, Justice Thomas addressed his own concern in the matter of selective abortion that was not taken up by the court due to Rule 10. In it, he leaned in favor of the law that prohibited abortion due to sex, race, or disability, as the law sought to prevent abortion from becoming “a tool of eugenic manipulation.” He writes that the history of eugenics is a caution, particularly the views of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who advocated the reduction of the “ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all,” and that such views were inherently repulsive and racist. He recognized that Sanger promoted birth control, and not abortion, but the ideas of eugenics that she spread continued until Planned Parenthood President, Alan Guttmacher, also advocated the use of abortion for eugenic purposes.
According to Justice Thomas, “Technological advances have only heightened the eugenic potential for abortion, as abortion can now be used to eliminate children with unwanted characteristics, such as a particular sex or disability,” and “[a]lthough the Court declines to wade into these issues today, we cannot avoid them forever.” And it’s true, we can not avoid these issues forever. At some point this nation is going to have to confront its divided position on the rights of unborn human beings. Do we refuse them the right to breathe air simply because they are inconvenient, or are the wrong sex, race, or have a disability? At least with the May Supreme Court decision, in Indiana, the unborn who have been denied the right to breathe air can, at least, be placed to rest with the dignity that they deserve.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal
Janet Stephenson is a resident of Thousand Oaks