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Judge blocks Indiana abortion ban on religious freedom grounds

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(RockedBuzz via Reuters) – A second Indiana judge on Friday prevented the state from enforcing its law that bans most abortions after Jewish, Muslim and other non-Christian women challenged it in a lawsuit.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Heather Welch issued a preliminary injunction against the Republican-backed law, which prohibits abortions with limited exceptions for rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormalities or a serious risk to the mother’s health. The applicants argued that the measure violated religious freedom protected by another state law.

The law had already been suspended, as another judge in September prevented Indiana from enforcing it as Planned Parenthood and other health care providers challenge it in court.

Indiana became the first state to pass a new law banning abortion after the US Supreme Court in June overturned its landmark ruling Roe v. Wade’s 1973 legalization of the procedure nationwide. Other Republican-led states quickly began enforcing the old bans.

Welch issued his injunction after a group called Hoosier Jews for Choice and five individual women challenged abortion law under Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU said the plaintiffs represented religions including Judaism and Islam, as well as “independent spiritual belief systems.”

“The Court finds that SEA 1 substantially burdens the plaintiffs’ religious practice,” Welch wrote, using the formal name of the law, in granting the plaintiffs’ application for a preliminary injunction while challenging its legality proceeds.

“Although some religions believe that human life begins at conception, this is not a view held by all religions or by all religious people,” the ACLU said in a statement.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Editing by Will Dunham)

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