Reactions mixed to request for law review
State attorney general asking Supreme Court to look at abortion law
While some people in Northwest Indiana commend the state’s attorney general for asking the country’s highest court to review an abortion-related law, others said they are against the move.
On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse a lower court’s decision declaring parts of a 2016 law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence unconstitutional, blocking the law.
Hill wants the justices to look at two portions of the law. One part required clinics and health care facilities to dispose of aborted or miscarried fetuses by cremation or internment.
“Nothing in the Constitution prohibits states from requiring health facilities to provide an element of basic human dignity in disposing of fetuses,” Hill said in a statement.
The other prohibited doctors from performing “discriminatory abortions based solely on the race, sex or disability of the child.”
“The right to abortion declared by our Supreme Court protects only the decision not to bear a child at all, not a right to decide which child to bear,” Hill said. “Our nation knows only too well the bitter fruits of such discrimination.”
The law was challenged by the ACLU of Indiana on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, or PPINK. Earlier this year, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that these provisions were unconstitutional.
“It’s disappointing that the state of Indiana continues to defend these unconstitutional and medically unnecessary abortion restrictions,” Christie Gillespie, PPINK president and CEO, said in a release. “By appealing to the Supreme Court, the state of Indiana is trying to not only chip away at Hoosiers’ rights, but also threaten the rights of people seeking safe and legal abortion care across the
Julie Storbeck, president of the Northwest Indiana chapter of the National Organization for Women, said she was “not at all surprised” that Hill made the request, especially after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
“The timing is perfect,” Storbeck said.
Betsy Hunt, who is a patient escort organizer for the Merrillville Planned Parenthood office, said she’s “anticipated this happening.” Since President Donald Trump entered the White House and Kavanaugh was selected, Hunt said she has seen anti-abortion protesters at the clinic become “louder” and “emboldened.”
Both Hunt and Storbeck said they disagree with the law and don’t want the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling that deemed it unconstitutional.
“Roe is settled law. It is precedent. Stop chipping away at Roe,” Storbeck said.
Len Reynolds and Al Raffin, presidents of Lake County’s and Porter County’s anti-abortion groups, respectively, support Hill’s request. In their eyes, abortion is “wrong.”
“First of all, I believe in our constitution, which says that you have a right to life before liberty — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Reynolds said.
A fetus should have “the dignity of burial or cremation,” Raffin said.
Reynolds and Raffin said they see the fetus as a person or a baby, but Storbeck said that a fetus is tissue.
“It’s just another way to anthropomorphize something that is not a human body to be buried,” Storbeck said.
Reynolds and Raffin said they also support the discriminatory provisions outlined in the law.
“When we consider aborting basically for the reason of race, sex or a disability, that’s kind of Hitler-esque, if you’re asking me,” Reynolds said.
Raffin said a relative of his has Down syndrome, who he said is loving and caring, and he doesn’t feel people should select which children they want to have.
Hunt suggested a scenar- io where a pregnant mother finds out through medical testing that her child has a severe medical anomaly.
“You’re forced to carry this fetus to term knowing the minute it’s born, it’s going to die?” she said.
Storbeck said, “The whole point of Roe is you don’t have to explain anything. Roe means that you don’t have to go into the doctor and say, ‘I want to terminate the pregnancy because,’ and justify it to somebody.”
“These are very personal and private decisions, and the government needs to stay out,” Storbeck said.
If the Supreme Court accepts Indiana’s petition this term, it will release an opinion in the first half of 2019, according to a release from PPINK.
Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director and PPINK attorney, said, “This law ignores long-settled precedent from the Supreme Court that a woman, not the legislature, gets to decide whether an abortion is the right decision for her and her family. The state’s request is yet another attempt by Indiana elected officials to take that decision out of a woman’s hands.”
“Deeply personal decisions about abortion should be made by women in consultation with their loved ones and health care professionals — not by politicians,” Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director, said.
“We will remain vigilant in our defense of every woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.”
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision about a 2016 abortion-related law.