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Florida Synagogue Sues State, Says New Abortion Law Violates Religious Freedoms

The new law is a “government intrusion” that violates the “religious freedom” of state residents, the lawsuit says.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs Florida's 15-week abortion ban into law at Nacion de Fe church in Kissimmee, Florida, on April 14, 2022.

A Jewish synagogue is suing the state of Florida over a new abortion law that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks of a pregnancy.

According to its website, Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, a synagogue based in Boynton Beach, practices “an all-inclusive, universal, and rational approach to Judaism.” The place of worship filed a lawsuit against the state last week in Leon County Circuit Court, asserting that the new law violates members’ constitutional provisions on privacy and religious rights enshrined in Florida’s state constitution.

“In Jewish law, abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman, or for many other reasons not permitted under the act,” Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor asserts in its lawsuit. “As such, the act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and thus violates their privacy rights and religious freedom.”

The suit further contends that the new abortion restrictions, which are set to be implemented on July 1, would promote certain Christian viewpoints in violation of the Florida Constitution, which states, “There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free expression thereof.”

Jews and other residents in the state who “do not share the religious views reflected in the act will suffer … irreparable harm,” the synagogue states.

The lawsuit further stipulates that:

This failure to maintain the separation of church and state, like so many other laws in other lands throughout history, threatens the Jewish family, and thus also threatens the Jewish people by imposing the laws of other religions upon Jews.

Assertions of religious preference in passing the law may be relevant as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) signed the bill into law inside a Christian church in Kissimmee back in April.

Beyond establishing a burdensome timeframe within which a person can obtain an abortion, the new law also provides no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking. It does allow abortion in cases where a pregnancy poses a “serious risk” to a person’s life or health.

This is the second lawsuit filed against the state over the 15-week abortion law. Earlier this month, abortion rights groups and abortion providers, organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, also filed a challenge to the law. It’s possible that the two lawsuits could be enjoined by the court system to create one joint challenge to the state law.

The statute, sometimes known as HB 5, “ignores the real life circumstances of people who need an abortion and deliberately puts them in harm’s way,” said ACLU of Florida legal director Daniel Tilley in a statement after the lawsuit was filed.

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