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Indiana Appeals Court hears arguments against the abortion prohibition based on religious freedom

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Oral arguments in the ongoing abortion ban controversy were heard by the Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Following the ACLU’s September 2022 class action complaint, the Marion County Trial Court ordered a preliminary injunction, which the defense appealed. The complaint contended that certain Hoosiers’ right to freedom of religion was violated by the state’s nearly complete ban on abortion. The injunction, one of many lawsuits the ACLU has filed opposing the ban, only affects specific groups even though the prohibition is still in effect statewide.

Regardless of an individual’s deeply held religious convictions, the state has a compelling interest in preserving a fetus’ development at all stages, according to the appellant’s attorney, James Barta, who made this argument before the court.

”This is not a matter of legislating one religion over another,” Barta said addressing the court. “The prohibition on abortion and the exceptions are religiously neutral.”

However, some religious leaders who were deposed as part of this hearing said they weren’t convinced of this. ”It is a religious argument by a certain section of Christianity,” Rev. Katie Romano Griffin, Senior Minister of All Souls Indianapolis, said.

Leading a Unitarian Universalist congregation, the reverend argued that the state’s almost complete ban on abortion has prevented some churchgoers from practicing their faith.

“I’ve talked to a lot of Unitarian Universalist young adults who are thinking about if they need to go through sterilization procedures,” Rev. Griffin said.

A significant burden on people who have strong religious convictions, according to the defense, needs to be demonstrated, not just suggested. Ken Falk, the legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, stated that the plaintiffs do not view it as hypothetical.

“They’ve changed their sexual practices to avoid becoming pregnant, they’re being substantially burdened today because of this law, which is counter to their religious beliefs,” Falk said.

The court also questioned whether or not the state’s ban should provide exceptions for religious views. When the court will render its final judgment is unknown, though. An official from the Office of the Indiana Attorney General stated the following in a statement:

“We once again stood up for the rights of the most vulnerable today. Our argument exposed the plaintiffs’ failed attempt to portray childbirth and pregnancy as a toss-away political issue, rather than a sacred gift…

The latest desperate posturing by cynical pro-abortion activists proves their true intentions – to ruthlessly attempt to block the will of Hoosiers. Voters elect their representatives who then reflect their constituents’ views while in Session…

The State has a compelling interest in protecting children from being unjustly killed, and our office will continue to defend the lives of the unborn against even the most radical, pro-death extremists. We look forward to the court’s ruling on this matter.”

 

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