(Headline USA) A group of anti-life religious leaders filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging Missouri‘s abortion ban claiming it violated their ‘religious freedom.’
The lawsuit filed in St. Louis is the latest of many anti-life measures designed to challenge restrictions on abortion enacted by conservative states after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. That landmark ruling left abortion rights up to each state to decide.
Since then, religious anti-life activists have increasingly used religious freedom lawsuits in seeking to protect the legality of infanticide. The religious freedom complaints are among nearly three dozen post-Roe lawsuits that have been filed against 19 states’ abortion bans, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
The Missouri lawsuit brought on behalf of 13 Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders seeks a permanent injunction barring the state from enforcing its abortion law and a declaration that provisions of its law violate the Missouri Constitution.
Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, a Republican, called the lawsuit “foolish.”
“We were acting on the belief that life is precious and should be treated as such. I don’t think that’s a religious belief,” Rowden said.
Within minutes of last year’s Supreme Court decision, then-Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Gov. Mike Parson, both Republicans, filed paperwork to immediately enact a 2019 law prohibiting abortions “except in cases of medical emergency.” That law contained a provision making it effective only if Roe v. Wade was overturned.
The law makes it a felony punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison to perform or induce an abortion. Medical professionals who do so also could lose their licenses.
Missouri already had some of the nation’s more restrictive abortion laws and had seen a significant decline in the number of abortions performed, a phenomenon also occurring in Texas.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the faith leaders by Americans United for Separation of Church & State and the National Women’s Law Center, said sponsors and supporters of the Missouri measure “repeatedly emphasized their religious intent in enacting the legislation.”
In Indiana, lawyers for five anonymous women — who are Jewish, Muslim and spiritual — and advocacy group Hoosier Jews for Choice have argued that state’s ban infringes on their beliefs. Their lawsuit specifically highlights the Jewish teaching that a fetus becomes a living person at birth and that Jewish law prioritizes the mother’s life and health.
In Kentucky, three Jewish women sued, claiming the state’s ban violates their religious rights under the state’s constitution and religious freedom law. They allege that Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature “imposed sectarian theology” by prohibiting nearly all abortions. The ban remains in effect while the Kentucky Supreme Court considers a separate case challenging the law.
Missouri Republican attorney general, Andrew Bailey, said in a statement that he will “defend the right to life with every tool at my disposal.”
“I want Missouri to be the safest state in the nation for children and that includes unborn children,” Bailey said.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press