Indiana Abortion Ban Enforcement Blocked by Second Judge

Following a lawsuit from five individuals and a religious organization who say the law violates their religious beliefs, the Indiana abortion ban’s enforcement was blocked by a second judge.

Judge Heather Welch of the Marion County Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction against the Indiana state law which bans abortion except in cases of rape or incest before the 10th week of pregnancy, to protect the life or physical health of the mother or if cases in which the fetus has a lethal anomaly.

The plaintiffs argued in their lawsuit that the abortion ban substantially burdens their exercise of religion in violation of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act which states that no government entity can substantially burden someone’s religious exercise unless it demonstrates that it is the least restrictive means of doing so and that is furthering a compelling government interest.

According to the beliefs of the members of Hoosier Jews for Choice, Jewish law considers the fetus part of a woman’s body until the moment of birth and states that life does not begin at conception.

One of the five anonymous plaintiffs does not belong to a religious denomination but has personal religious and spiritual beliefs, one is a Muslim, and three are Jewish.

According to the ruling, Judge Welch based her injunction on her opinion that the five anonymous plaintiffs and the Jewish group Hoosier Jews for Choice were substantially likely to succeed on the merits of their arguments.

Her ruling states that under Jewish law, a fetus only attains the status of a living person after birth and that Jewish law recognizes certain situations when abortion should be allowed, like in instances when the pregnancy might cause serious consequences to a woman’s physical or mental health.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Indiana became the first US state to pass a law banning abortion which went into effect on Sept. 15 but was blocked a week later through an injunction by another judge.

The oral arguments on that judge’s ruling will be heard next month by the Indiana Supreme Court which is to determine whether the law violates the state constitution.

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