Justice Clarence Thomas predicted the Supreme Court eventually will have to take up abortion law, after the court on Tuesday refused to consider reinstating Indiana’s 2016 law that bans women from aborting a fetus based on its race, gender or disability and requires burial rites for aborted fetuses.
“Given the potential for abortion to become a tool of eugenic manipulation, the court will soon need to confront the constitutionality of laws like Indiana’s,” Thomas wrote in a 20-page concurring opinion in which he agreed that “further percolation” on the matter is needed.
In a mixed ruling, the high court upheld an Indiana law that requires aborted fetuses be buried or cremated, but declined to reinstate the state’s abortion ban.
Even though the court is not taking up the issues now, Thomas wrote, “We cannot avoid them forever. Having created the constitutional right to an abortion, this Court is duty bound to address its scope.”
Thomas argued that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, equated birth control with eugenics — the genetic selection of desirable characteristics.
The Supreme Court’s ruling comes as several Republican-led states — including Alabama and Georgia — have approved extreme restrictions on abortion rights, setting up a possible showdown in the high court over the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision affirming a woman’s right to an abortion.
In a 7-2 opinion — with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting — the court decided that clinics must treat aborted fetuses as human remains, overturning a lower court that said the burial provision had no legitimate purpose.
The high court noted that it had already agreed in a 1983 ruling that states have a legitimate interest in disposing of fetal remains, and declared that the provision did not hinder a woman’s right to an abortion.
Both provisions were parts of a law signed in 2016 by Vice President Mike Pence when he was the governor of Indiana that the 7th US Court of Appeals in Chicago blocked.