INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's new abortion law faced another legal blow Friday when a judge granted a preliminary injunction request in a case arguing the law violated religious freedoms.
The new restrictions were already blocked by a different judge in a case arguing the law may violate Indiana’s constitution.
“Abortion is legal in Indiana today. This preliminary injunction acts as a second layer of protection, ensuring the rights of Hoosiers on the grounds of religious freedom,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana's legal director. “This decision represents another crucial victory for abortion access and we will continue to fight this ban until it is blocked for good.”
Marion County Judge Heather Welch wrote the law “substantially burdens the religious exercise of the plaintiffs.” The ACLU of Indiana is representing several Hoosiers from a variety of faiths. Most of the clients are Jewish, but the ACLU is also representing a Muslim and spiritual woman.
The judge argues plaintiffs demonstrated they have a “likelihood of success” arguing the new law violates the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The women say their religions allow abortions to protect the health and mental health of a mother beyond what the new law allows.
Indiana lawmakers held a special session in July and August to pass the new abortion restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Lawmakers banned all elective abortions. The law did have some exceptions, including for victims of rape and incest before 10 weeks post-fertilization, to protect the life and physical health of the mother and if the fetus was diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.
Indiana’s abortion law first went into effect on Sept. 15. A week later, on Sept. 22, a special judge temporarily blocked the restriction in a case where the ACLU argued the law violated Indiana’s constitution.
The Indiana Supreme Court agreed to take that case. The high court will hear arguments in 2023.