HomeoldCourt of Appeals hears second challenge to Indiana’s pro-life SB1

Court of Appeals hears second challenge to Indiana’s pro-life SB1

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Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, Indiana became the first state to enact protective legislation. Senate Bill 1, which was signed by Governor Eric Holcomb in August 2022, permits abortions in instances of rape or incest, when there is a significant risk to the life of the mother, or when fatal fetal anomalies are present. Furthermore, abortions must be performed in hospitals.

Those in favor of abortion rights mounted two distinct challenges to SB 1. The ACLU of Indiana initiated the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of the law, arguing that it was unconstitutional on its face. However, on June 30, 2023, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the law by a vote of 4-1.

According to Casey Smith’s account, as presented in the Indiana Capitol Chronicle,

” … we hold that Article 1, Section 1 (of the Indiana Constitution) protects a woman’s right to an abortion that is necessary to protect her life or to protect her from a serious health risk, but the General Assembly otherwise retains broad legislative discretion for determining whether and the extent to which to prohibit abortions,” Justice Derek Molter wrote in the ruling.

The most recent development in the second assault was presented to a three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals yesterday. “Five anonymous Hoosiers holding different religious beliefs and the group Hoosier Jews for Choice sued for abortion access,” argued Binghui Huang for the Indianapolis Star. The plaintiffs asserted that the state’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act exempts those whose faith does not hold that life begins at conception from the state’s abortion ban.”

In a ruling last year, Marion County Judge Heather Welch determined that the ban was likely in violation of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Judge Heather Welch’s narrow injunction grants a temporary religious exemption from the state’s abortion ban, as reported by Smith. The state was unsuccessful in its attempt to appeal the injunction directly to the Indiana Supreme Court.

According to Huang, the appeals court panel posed challenging questions to both parties.

“You have a Christian belief system that is different than a Jewish belief system that’s different than a Muslim belief system,” [Judge Leanna K.] Weissmann said. “So how can the state mandate a policy that compels compelling interest based on a Christian belief system?”

In response, James Barta, solicitor general at the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, stated that

previous legal rulings have established the state has a right to protect life at conception, regardless of religion. He added that legislators had to weigh different interests when passing the abortion law, but argued that any other exceptions should be decided by lawmakers.

“Those exceptions reflect that the legislature recognizes there are some ethical and moral imperatives when you have a pregnancy that’s a product of rape or incest,” he said.

In response to a question about the impact of the abortion ban on the rights of those he represents, Ken Falk, the legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, stated that the ban places a significant burden on the rights of the people he represents.

“None of them are currently pregnant.” None of the individuals in question are currently seeking an abortion. “Where does the substantial burden come in?” The Honorable Judge Weissmann inquired.

Falk responded that the ban has altered their behaviors and lives. In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that they feel compelled to abandon plans to have children or engage in sexual activity due to concerns about the potential dangers or undesirability of pregnancy.

The timing of the decision by Judge Lloyd Mark Bailey, Judge Melissa S. May, and Judge Weissmann is unclear.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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