U.S. Supreme Court Makes Surprise Tuesday Abortion Ruling


When Brett Kavanaugh was first announced as Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, before anyone knew he had attempted to sexually assault a young woman in his earlier days, the biggest concern was his stated opposition to Roe v. Wade and Trump’s statements about appointing anti-abortion judges to the SCOTUS.

On Tuesday, the first SCOTUS decision of the Kavanaugh era was handed down, and results were mixed. The Supreme Court upheld a federal court’s ruling on an Indiana law from the Mike Pence days that banning abortion on the basis of race, sex, or disability is unconstitutional, as only a woman can decide which reasons she chooses to terminate a pregnancy. However, they also decided that a law requiring burial or cremation for fetal tissue would be upheld.

The Los Angeles Times reports that:

‘The court’s action Tuesday signals that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his fellow conservatives are not ready to directly confront abortion rights, at least during a presidential election year. Had the high court agreed to hear the Indiana case, it would have been argued in the fall and decided by June 2020.’

Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision in which a woman’s right to make medical decisions privately in consultation with her physician without government interference, does not include language that qualifies when or for what reasons those decisions can be made. On that basis, the federal court’s ruling that such a provision would limit a woman’s right to choose was upheld.

‘The law’s “non-discrimination” provision said “Indiana does not allow a fetus to be aborted solely because of the fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.”’

The burial provision will likely increase the cost of abortion procedures and may be used in other states to make abortions more difficult to obtain. With many states already having only one clinic in an entire state, such as Kentucky and Louisiana, further restrictions will decrease access for impoverished and underage women.

‘The justices voted 7-2 to uphold the fetal remains part of Indiana’s law, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.

‘Lower courts had struck down Indiana’s law as unconstitutional under Roe vs. Wade. Under that decision, a woman and her doctor, not the state, has the right to choose whether to end an early or mid-term pregnancy.’

Featured image via Flickr by Ninian Reed under a Creative Commons license