Indiana’s abortion ban has been temporarily blocked for a second time over RFRA

A Marion County judge Friday issued an injunction against Indiana’s near-total abortion ban, this time as part of a lawsuit alleging the ban violates protections of religious freedom.

Marion Superior Judge Heather Welch granted a motion to temporarily block the state’s new abortion law because it “substantially impedes” the religious practice of five Hoosier women whose beliefs allow abortions under conditions not permitted under the ban’s narrow exceptions are.

It is the second time the state ban on abortion has been temporarily blocked since Gov. Eric Holcomb enacted it in August. Another injunction was granted in September as part of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood alleging the abortion ban violates rights protected by the Indiana Constitution, such as the right to privacy. The Indiana Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in January.

In the new injunction, issued Friday, Welch noted that the women who filed the lawsuit “are likely to prevail” if they claim the new law violates Indiana’s Restoration of Religious Freedom Act.

Luke Howard of Avon holds a cross over the Love Them Both Rally hosted by Right to Life Indiana at the Indiana Statehouse on July 26, 2022. A judge issued a second injunction preventing the state's abortion ban from going into effect at the time based on religious freedom arguments.

The Restoration of Religious Freedom Act, also known as RFRA, prevents the government from impeding someone’s religious practice unless there is a strong case for the state’s interest and that interest is advanced in the least restrictive manner. The law was signed by the then governor. Mike Pence in 2015.

The five women taking part in the lawsuit challenging the new abortion law practice Judaism, Islam, Unitarian universalism, Episcopalianism or paganism. They are seeking class action status and are being joined as plaintiffs by the Hoosier Jews for Choice group. The ACLU from Indiana represents the women.