UNITED STATES NEWS

Lawsuit challenging Indiana abortion ban survives a state challenge

Apr 4, 2024, 1:34 PM | Updated: 4:08 pm

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals gave an incremental win Thursday to a group of residents suing the state over its near-total abortion ban, arguing that it violates a state law protecting religious freedom.

The three-judge panel’s ruling agreed with a lower court that plaintiffs with a religious objection to the ban should be exempt from it. But the written decision had no immediate effect and may be challenged in the state Supreme Court within the next 45 days.

Indiana’s near total abortion ban went into effect in August after the Indiana Supreme Court upheld it, ending a separate legal challenge.

The religious challenge against the ban was brought by four residents and the group Hoosier Jews for Choice in September 2022, saying it violates a state religious-freedom law Republican lawmakers approved in 2015. A county judge sided with the residents — who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana — last December. Indiana later appealed the decision.

“For many Hoosiers, the ability to obtain an abortion is necessary based on a sincerely held religious belief,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director, in a statement.

The appeals court ordered the trial court to “narrow” the earlier preliminary injunction only to residents who according to their sincerely held religious beliefs require an abortion. The order also affirmed class certification in the case, which the state challenged.

The ACLU’s lawsuit argues that the ban violates Jewish teaching that “a fetus attains the status of a living person only at birth” and that “Jewish law stresses the necessity of protecting the life and physical and mental health of the mother prior to birth as the fetus is not yet deemed to be a person.” It also cites theological teachings allowing abortion in at least some circumstances by Islamic, Episcopal, Unitarian Universalist and Pagan faiths.

“We are dealing with a very favorable decision that is not yet final,” Falk said when speaking to reporters Thursday. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office did not immediately comment on the ruling.

The appeals court panel consistently sided with the residents over the state of Indiana fighting the injunction. The judges agreed with the original county judge that for the plaintiffs, obtaining an abortion when directed by their sincere religious beliefs “is their exercise of religion.”

“They also have shown their sexual and reproductive lives will continue to be restricted absent the injunction,” the order said.

A judge heard arguments in a similar lawsuit in Missouri in November, in which 13 Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders are seeking a permanent injunction barring Missouri’s abortion law. The lawyers for the plaintiffs said at a court hearing that state lawmakers intended to “impose their religious beliefs on everyone” in the state.

Three Jewish women have sued in Kentucky, claiming the state’s ban violates their religious rights under the state’s constitution and religious freedom law.

Indiana became the first state to enact tighter abortion restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court ended federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

The near total ban makes exceptions for abortions at hospitals in cases of rape or incest and to protect the life and physical health of the mother or if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.

The ACLU revamped another legal challenge to the ban in November. In an amended complaint, abortion providers are seeking a preliminary junction on the ban in order to expand medical exemptions and block the requirement that abortions must be provided at a hospital.

United States News

Palestinians displaced by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip walk through a mak...

Associated Press

Rifts seem to appear between Israel’s political and military leadership over conduct of the Gaza war

In a rare public rift between the country’s leadership, an Israeli army spokesman appeared to question the goal of destroying Hamas.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Probe finds carelessness caused Jewish student group’s omission from New Jersey high school yearbook

An investigation into how and why a Jewish student group was erased from a New Jersey high school yearbook found the omission was caused by negligence and carelessness, but was not done on purpose or out of malice, the school district announced Wednesday. East Brunswick Public Schools hired a law firm to investigate after the […]

5 hours ago

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday, June 18, 2024, that he wants to restrict students' ...

Associated Press

California governor wants to restrict smartphone usage in schools

Gavin Newsom announced he wants to restrict students' usage of phones during the school day, citing the mental health risks of social media.

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Shooting in Philadelphia wounds 7 people, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Seven people were wounded Wednesday evening in a shooting in Philadelphia, police said. The shooting happened just before 6:30 p.m. in North Philadelphia. The victims include a 19-year-old man who was shot in the leg, a 31-year-old woman shot in the hand, a 23-year-old man shot in the buttock, and two women […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Boaters find $1 million of cocaine floating off Florida Keys

MIAMI (AP) — Recreational boaters found $1 million worth of cocaine floating in the ocean off the Florida Keys. Samuel Briggs II, the acting chief patrol agent of the U.S. Border Patrol, wrote about the find in a social media post on X. Briggs posted video Monday night showing the wrapped packages of cocaine being […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Police credit New Yorkers for suspect’s arrest in the rape of a 13-year-old girl

NEW YORK (AP) — Residents of a New York City neighborhood were praised for their role in the arrest of an Ecuadorian accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, a crime that the city’s police commissioner said “shocked our entire city.” Christian Geovanny Inga-Landi, 25, was arrested early Tuesday outside a deli in Corona, Queens. He […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Lawsuit challenging Indiana abortion ban survives a state challenge