INDIANAPOLIS – A Marion County judge heard the first arguments Friday in a second lawsuit challenging Indiana’s near-total abortion ban – this one focused on Indiana’s religious freedom law.
The abortion law remains on hold after a judge issued a preliminary injunction last month in a separate case.
Five anonymous citizens and the group Hoosier Jews for Choice sued the state, arguing the ban violates Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ken Falk of the ACLU of Indiana said in court that the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs compel them to get an abortion in some situations.
“This is not a monumental ask,” Falk told reporters after the hearing. “It’s asking that another exception be carved out of the law for persons who have sincere religious beliefs.”
The judge is now considering whether to issue a preliminary injunction to the law in the religious freedom case.
Last month, an Owen County judge put the law on hold in a separate case. That lawsuit was filed by abortion providers claiming a right to privacy violation under the state constitution. The case now heads to the Indiana Supreme Court, where a hearing is scheduled for January 12.
“We obviously are optimistic about what’s going to happen in the [Indiana] Supreme Court on the first case, but it makes perfect sense to try and get a preliminary injunction in this case as well,” Falk said.
But Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher argues another injunction is unnecessary for the plaintiffs.
“If the other injunction isn’t enough for them, why would this one be any different?” Fisher said after the hearing.
Fisher denied the state is taking a religious position with the abortion law and argues the legislature acted on ethical grounds.
“Just because a law happens to be consistent with some religious teachings doesn’t make it a religious law,” Fisher said.
“Religious liberty is important, let’s bear that in mind,” he added. “But so is protecting the life of the unborn.”
The judge is expected to make a decision on whether to issue a preliminary injunction in the religious freedom case within the next few weeks.