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Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Part Of 2016 Indiana Anti-Abortion Law

A 2016 protest at the Statehouse over Indiana’s controversial anti-abortion law. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

A federal appeals court once again struck down part of an Indiana anti-abortion law. The latest ruling concerns a 2016 measure that banned abortions because of a fetus’s characteristics.

The 2016 law barred women from seeking abortions solely because of a fetus’s sex, race, or potential disability. A federal judge struck down that provision last year – and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling. In its opinion, the appellate court says the U.S. Supreme Court is clear: a state cannot prohibit abortions before viability.

The Appeals Court also invalidated a provision that required medical facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains. The state argued it has a right to ensure the dignified and humane disposal of human remains. But the court says the law does not recognize the fetus as a person.

This is one of six lawsuits challenging Indiana anti-abortion statutes since 2011. Federal courts have ruled against the state in each of those cases – most of which involve Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the ACLU of Indiana.

Federal Judge Daniel Manion, one of the three judges who ruled on the case, wrote a separate opinion. In it, he “regretfully” agrees with invalidating the ban on abortion because of a fetus’s characteristics – though he argues the Supreme Court should revisit its earlier rulings on the issue.

But Manion disagrees with the decision to strike down the fetal remains provisions. He says the state is well within its rights to “protect public sensibilities” and require fetal remains to be buried or cremated by medical facilities.

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