I've written about this topic before, particularly with respect to the Indiana law enacted in 2015 and amended in 2016. That law gives women who have abortions "the right to determine the final disposition of the aborted fetus." Ind. Code Section 16-34-3-2(a). It also requires a woman to fill out a form prescribed by the state indicating her decision regarding "the final disposition of the aborted fetus before the aborted fetus may be discharged from the abortion clinic or the health care facility." Ind. Code Section 16-34-3-2(a). The law also defines the disposition methods permitted by law for aborted or miscarried fetuses of less than 20 weeks gestation.
Ind. Code Ann. § 16-34-3-4 Cremation or interment of aborted fetus; permit; certificate of stillbirth
(a) An abortion clinic or health care facility having possession of an aborted fetus shall provide for the final disposition of the aborted fetus. The burial transit permit requirements of IC 16-37-3 apply to the final disposition of an aborted fetus, which must be interred or cremated. However:
(1) a person is not required to designate a name for the aborted fetus on the burial transit permit and the space for a name may remain blank; and
(2) any information submitted under this section that may be used to identify the pregnant woman is confidential and must be redacted from any public records maintained under IC 16-37-3.
Aborted fetuses may be cremated by simultaneous cremation.
(b) The local health officer shall issue a permit for the disposition of the aborted fetus to the person in charge of interment for the interment of the aborted fetus. A certificate of stillbirth is not required to be issued for an aborted fetus with a gestational age of less than twenty (20) weeks of age.
(c) IC 23-14-31-26, IC 23-14-55-2, IC 25-15-9-18, and IC 29-2-19-17 concerning the authorization of disposition of human remains apply to this section.
Several reporters have examined Indiana's law in the past few months, putting it into the context of a national movement to change state laws regarding the disposition of human remains and to expand them to include all products of concepts, regardless of gestational age. Traditionally, states have treated fetuses of greater than 20 weeks gestation as if they had been born alive for purposes of disposition—they receive a special kind of death certificate and are then treated the same as any other human remains. States have traditionally been silent about the disposition of fetuses of less than 20 weeks gestation. Two groups have objected to that bifurcation—women who suffered an early miscarriage and wanted to control the disposition of the fetal remains, and pro life groups who believe that life begins at conception and the 20 week gestation line deprived fetal remains of a dignified disposition.