Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: May 28, 2019
  • Case #: 18-483
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: PER CURIAM.
  • Full Text Opinion

The disposal of fetal remains constitutes a legitimate governmental interest and governmental regulation will satisfy rational basis review even without perfect tailoring, but the regulation of selective abortions constitutes a novel legal issue that more appellate courts must consider before Supreme Court review.

Petitioner passed a bill with two provisions related to selective abortions and fetal disposition. The first provision outlawed selective abortions knowingly based on sex, race, or disability while the second provision outlawed the medical disposal of fetal remains, mandating instead the disposal of fetal remains as human remains through either burial or cremation. Respondent filed a complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief, alleging the provisions violated the U.S. Constitution under rational basis review. The district court found the provisions unconstitutional and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Seventh Circuit held that the selective abortion provision violated Supreme Court precedent by prohibiting any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability. The Seventh Circuit also held that the second provision’s regulation of the disposal of human remains did not constitute a legitimate governmental interest. The Supreme Court reversed the lower courts’ decisions regarding the second provision. The Court noted that precedent established the proper disposal of fetal remains as a legitimate governmental interest. Thus, the Court held that the Seventh Circuit erred by failing to recognize the validity of the provision based on Respondent’s challenge under rational basis review. Regarding the selective abortion provision, the Court denied review because additional appellate courts have yet to consider this legal issue. REVERSED IN PART AND PETITION FOR REVIEW DENIED IN PART.

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