INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana's high court said it will not immediately consider a challenge to the state's abortion ban that is based on the argument that the law violates some people's religious freedoms, leaving that decision to an appeals court, at least for now.
The state Supreme Court issued an order Monday saying the state Court of Appeals will first consider the case, after a lower court judge in December sided with residents who claim the state's abortion ban infringes on their religious beliefs.
The state attorney general's office appealed that decision and asked the high court to take up the case in December, saying in a statement Tuesday that it would “keep defending the law and fighting for life" in the appeals court.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit in September on behalf of those residents — who hold Muslim, Jewish and other faiths — after Republican state lawmakers enacted the ban last summer. The ACLU did not immediately reply to a request for comment Tuesday.
Indiana's ban, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, goes against those residents’ religious values regarding when they believe the treatment is acceptable, the lawsuit argues.
Earlier in January, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by abortion clinic operators. The court has maintained a block on the abortion ban while it considers the case, after a county judge in September initially found the law likely violated privacy protections under the state constitution.
While Indiana’s ban is blocked, abortion will remain legal in the state up to 20 weeks post-fertilization.
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, religious freedoms lawsuits against states' abortion bans have sprouted across the country, where abortion-rights supporters are aiming to protect access to abortion and defend their beliefs.
Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers