Why Pro-Life People Should Support Indiana’s New Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Opinion   Mike Fichter   Mar 30, 2015   |   2:50PM    Indianapolis, IN

In the days since Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law, much has been presented in the media regarding untruthful assertions ranging from RFRA being a license to discriminate to RFRA permitting the burning of abortion clinics.

What’s the real truth, and why does Indiana Right to Life support RFRA?

The short answer is that Indiana’s RFRA provides much-needed protection to prevent pro-life persons, businesses or ministries from being forced by state or local laws to support abortion.

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In a landmark 2014 ruling, the United States Supreme Court recognized that the federal Religious Freedom  Restoration Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, gave the Hobby Lobby corporation protection against being forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs under Obamacare in violation of the company’s faith-principles that oppose abortion.  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014) The federal RFRA applicable to Hobby Lobby pertains strictly to federal law, not to state law.  The result is that prior to the enactment of Indiana’s state RFRA, pro-life persons, businesses and ministries in Indiana did not enjoy the same religious freedom protection against state or local laws that might force them into supporting abortion in violation of faith principles.

Indiana is not breaking new ground with its RFRA.  In fact, 30 other states have a RFRA judicial review standard or have enacted a RFRA law: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montanat, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Indiana case law differs from each of these states and the federal government and legal scholars have labeled the current Indiana judicial review standard as uncertain.  Notably, the Hobby Lobby case decided last year by the U.S. Supreme Court highlighted the uncertainties of how these types of cases would be decided in Indiana in the absence of RFRA.

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Our new Indiana RFRA law helps remove that uncertainty.  The adoption of the RFRA standard will assure that our state courts follow the same reasoning and case law as the federal courts and 30 other states when they weigh these issues.

Pro-life Hoosiers deserve the same protections against overbearing state and local laws as do their counterparts in the majority of the states.   This is why Indiana Right to Life proudly supports RFRA and is thankful for Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana legislature for enacting this new protection of our religious freedom.

LifeNews Note: Mike Fichter is the president of Indiana Right to Life.