Courts Strike Down Pro-Life Laws In Indiana, Ohio

Cases from the two states could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional an Indiana law protecting unborn children from abortion for reasons of sex, race, or a disability diagnosis, and the neighboring 6th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling against an Ohio law that defunded the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Federal courts ruled against pro-life laws in Indiana and Ohio last week, dealing another blow to pro-life efforts and setting the stage for possible U.S. Supreme Court battles.

On Thursday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional an Indiana law protecting unborn children from abortion for reasons of sex, race, or a disability diagnosis, and the neighboring 6th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling against an Ohio law that defunded the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky filed suit against Indiana’s law in 2016, saying it interfered with a woman’s right to an abortion. The 7th Circuit agreed: “The non-discrimination provisions clearly violate well-established Supreme Court precedent holding that a woman may terminate her pregnancy prior to viability, and that the state may not prohibit a woman from exercising that right for any reason.”

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Daniel Manion noted the ruling regrettably makes abortion a “super right” that is “now a more untouchable right than even the freedom of speech.” But, he added, the ruling “begs for the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe and Casey,” the two major cases that established the legal right to abortion pre-viability.

Planned Parenthood also challenged the Indiana law’s fetal disposition clause that requires abortion facilities to treat fetal remains separately from other medical waste and to get transfer permits for their burial. The court ruled that based on Supreme Court precedent, aborted babies aren’t people and don’t need to be handled with the same respect.

Americans United for Life attorney Clarke Forsythe told me that a portion of the ruling could make its way to the Supreme Court. He pointed to a 1983 ruling by the 8th Circuit upholding a Minnesota fetal disposition statute.

“The Supreme Court may be more inclined to take cases in which there is a conflict between one circuit and another,” he noted.

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