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ACLU cites RFRA in 2nd lawsuit to block Indiana abortion ban

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana claims the state’s near-total ban on abortion violates the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The ACLU filed its lawsuit Thursday, its second one hoping to block enforcement of the state’s new abortion restrictions.

The suit, filed on behalf of five anonymous plaintiffs and the group Hoosier Jews for Choice, says the new law which takes effect Sept. 15 “severely burdens the plaintiffs’ sincere religious beliefs.”

The suit goes on to state, “Jewish law recognizes that abortions may occur, and should occur as a religious matter, under circumstances not allowed by S.E.A. 1 or existing Indiana law.”

The lawsuit argues that the new law violates the beliefs of the Muslim, Unitarian Universalist and Episcopalian faiths, as well as those who follow Paganism.

Indiana’s religious freedom law, commonly known as RFRA, passed the General Assembly in 2015 and was signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence. The original law championed by conservative religious leaders created enormous public and corporate backlash, prompting lawmakers to make changes just weeks after it was passed.

“Indiana’s RFRA law protects religious freedom for all Hoosiers, not just those who practice Christianity,” Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana legal director, said in a statement. “The ban on abortion will substantially burden the exercise of religion by many Hoosiers who, under the new law, would be prevented from obtaining abortions, in conflict with their sincere religious beliefs.”

The ACLU of Indiana filed another suit to block the abortion ban last month. That suit, filed in Monroe County on behalf of abortion providers, claims the new law violates state constitutional protections to the right to privacy and equal privileges

On Thursday, a second Monroe County judge declined to hear the case.

No hearing dates have been set for either lawsuit.