Judge rules on Indiana abortion ban violates religious rights

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A senior Indiana attorney on Friday questioned the validity of a lawsuit brought by a group of residents who argue that the state’s abortion ban violates their religious freedom.

A judge listened to arguments in an Indianapolis courtroom for about an hour on Friday, spurred by claims by five anonymous residents – who are Jewish, Muslim and spiritual – and the group Hoosier Jews for Choice. They argue that the ban – currently blocked under a separate lawsuit – violates their religious rights if they believe abortion is acceptable.

The lawsuit says the ban violates Jewish teaching that “a fetus acquires the status of a living person only at birth” and that “Jewish law emphasizes the need to protect the life and physical and mental health of the mother.” to protect from childbirth”. It also cites theological teachings that allow abortion by Islamic, Episcopal, Unitarian, Universalist, and Pagan faiths, at least in certain circumstances.

“The state simply cannot determine what is religious and what is secular,” Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said Friday.

The religious freedom lawsuit filed in the Marion County Court is the second of two lawsuits challenging the ACLU’s ban. It cites a state law that then-Gov. Mike Pence signed into law in 2015 to ban any legislation that “puts a significant burden” on a person’s ability to follow their religious beliefs. Critics have denounced the Republican-backed measure as a thinly disguised attempt to allow discrimination against gay people.

In response to the religious freedom complaint, the attorney general’s office said the anonymous stories cited in the lawsuit were too abstract to analyze, adding that “their alleged harm regarding changes in their contraceptive and sexual practices reflect the serious consequences of the… Killing is not worth an unborn child.”

Attorney General Thomas Fisher repeated that argument Friday when he claimed that the anonymous plaintiffs’ “hypothetical” reasons for having an abortion failed to meet the Religious Freedom Act’s “case-specific, factual investigation” requirement.

“We are not at the moment where abortion becomes part of the religious practice, if it ever does,” Fisher said.

Marion County Judge Heather Welch said both sides must submit additional written arguments by Oct. 28 and she will make her decision within 30 days of that.

The ACLU’s other lawsuit revolves around claims that the ban violates the state’s constitution, something the Indiana Supreme Court said Wednesday it would consider next year.

The Supreme Court accepted appeals against a judge’s decision in September that blocked the ban a week after it went into effect, and denied a state request to lift the temporary ban. A scheduled hearing on the lawsuit, filed by abortion clinic operators in August, is set for January 12.

As the state Supreme Court reviews the other case, Fisher said the issuance of a religious liberty injunction was only “symbolic.”

“Token decisions are not the court’s role,” Fisher, a senior assistant to Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, said Friday.

However, Falk told reporters after the hearing that a second injunction against the ban would provide more certainty, particularly because the lawsuits address different aspects of the law.

The abortion ban, which includes narrow exceptions, was approved by the state’s GOP-dominated legislature on Aug. 5 and signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. Indiana became the first state to enact stricter abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections by ruling in Roe v. Wade lifted in June.

No belief is monolithic on the abortion issue. Still, many adherents of faiths that do not prohibit abortion have complained that stricter abortion laws could supersede their individual rights and religious beliefs, such as the position of Judaism outlined in the lawsuit.

Similar lawsuits were recently filed elsewhere, including in Kentucky and Florida, where a synagogue argued in June that the state’s abortion restrictions violate Jews’ religious freedom rights.

https://wgntv.com/northwest-indiana/judge-gauges-if-indiana-abortion-ban-defies-religious-rights%EF%BF%BC/ Judge rules on Indiana abortion ban violates religious rights

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