Appeals court hears arguments in religious freedom challenge to Indiana abortion ban
Hoosiers are a step closer to finding out whether Indiana’s abortion ban illegally clashes with the state’s religious freedom guarantees.
RFRA is a legal test. It says a state law can only substantially burden a person’s exercise of their religious beliefs if the law is advancing a compelling interest and does so in the least restrictive way possible.
Appeals court judges repeatedly asked Indiana Solicitor General James Barta how the state can have a compelling interest to ban abortion when it has exceptions to that ban, like for cases of rape or incest.
“If this court looks more broadly to federal cases applying [RFRA], none of the cases have said simply because there’s an exception, the state doesn’t have a compelling interest,” Barta said.
ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk, representing the anonymous women, was asked whether their religious exercise was really being burdened, when none of the women are pregnant or seeking abortions.
“It’s the change in their sexual behavior,” Falk said. “They have taken steps today solely because of this statute, solely because of their religious beliefs.”
There is no timetable for the appeals court decision. And any ruling will almost certainly be appealed to the state Supreme Court.