According to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pregnant woman who decides to have an abortion is not a “mother,” despite the biological reality that she is – or has – carried a distinctly separate human life within her womb for at least some time.
Ginsburg made the absurdly unscientific claim after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld part of a 2016 Indiana law requiring aborted fetal remains be cremated or buried, rather than disposed of as medical waste.
“[A] woman who exercises her constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy is not a ‘mother’,” Ginsburg wrote in a footnote to Justice Clarence Thomas’ 20-page majority opinion. Interestingly, she failed to cite any evidence - legal, scientific or otherwise - to support her claim, which would presumably extend to women who involuntarily lose their (very much wanted) children through miscarriage or stillbirth.
Ginsburg also took issue with the court's ruling that a state does, in fact, have a legitimate interest in how human remains are disposed of, and can therefore mandate that aborted children be buried or cremated like any other deceased human. While SCOTUS ultimately ruled that such a requirement doesn’t place an undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion and is therefore constitutional, Ginsburg disagreed.
“[T]rauma potentially induced by, a post-procedure requirement may well constitute an undue burden,” Ginsburg dissented.
Indiana’s law, however, doesn’t require that the post-abortive woman assume responsibility for cremating or burying her dead child, but rather allows for the hospital or medical facility to handle the process in the event the woman chooses not to.
While SCOTUS upheld a state’s right to dictate how fetal remains are disposed of, the court refused to hear an appeal for the part of the Indiana law that banned selective abortion based solely on an unborn baby’s race, sex or disability.