ST. LOUIS (AP) — A gaggle of non secular leaders who help abortion rights filed a lawsuit Thursday difficult Missouri’s abortion ban, saying lawmakers brazenly invoked their non secular beliefs whereas drafting the measure and thereby imposed these beliefs on others who don’t share them.

The lawsuit filed in St. Louis is the most recent of many to problem restrictive abortion legal guidelines enacted by conservative states after the Supreme Court docket overturned Roe v. Wade in June. That landmark ruling left abortion rights as much as every state to resolve.

Since then, non secular abortion rights supporters have more and more used non secular freedom lawsuits in in search of to guard abortion entry. The non secular freedom complaints are amongst almost three dozen post-Roe lawsuits which have been filed towards 19 states’ abortion bans, in keeping with the Brennan Heart for Justice.

The Missouri lawsuit introduced on behalf of 13 Christian , Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders seeks a everlasting injunction barring the state from imposing its abortion regulation and a declaration that provisions of its regulation violate the Missouri Structure.

“What the lawsuit says is that once you legislate your non secular beliefs into regulation, you impose your beliefs on everybody else and power all of us to reside by your individual slim beliefs,” stated Michelle Banker of the Nationwide Ladies’s Regulation Heart, the lead lawyer within the case. “And that hurts us. That denies our fundamental human rights.”

Missouri Senate President Professional Tem Caleb Rowden, a Republican, known as the lawsuit “silly.”

“We had been performing on the assumption that life is treasured and must be handled as such. I don’t assume that’s a spiritual perception,” Rowden stated.

Inside minutes of final 12 months’s Supreme Court docket resolution, then-Lawyer Basic Eric Schmitt and Gov. Mike Parson, each Republicans, filed paperwork to instantly enact a 2019 regulation prohibiting abortions “besides in circumstances of medical emergency.” That regulation contained a provision making it efficient provided that Roe v. Wade was overturned.

The regulation makes it a felony punishable by 5 to fifteen years in jail to carry out or induce an abortion. Medical professionals who achieve this additionally might lose their licenses. The regulation says that ladies who endure abortions can’t be prosecuted.

Missouri already had a few of the nation’s extra restrictive abortion legal guidelines and had seen a major decline within the variety of abortions carried out, with residents as a substitute touring to clinics simply throughout the state line in Illinois and Kansas.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the religion leaders by Individuals United for Separation of Church & State and the Nationwide Ladies’s Regulation Heart, stated sponsors and supporters of the Missouri measure “repeatedly emphasised their non secular intent in enacting the laws.” It quotes the invoice’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Nick Schroer, as saying that “as a Catholic I do consider life begins at conception and that’s constructed into our legislative findings.” A co-sponsor, Republican state Rep. Barry Hovis, stated he was motivated “from the Biblical aspect of it,” in keeping with the lawsuit.

“I’m right here in the present day as a result of none of our non secular views on abortion or the rest must be enshrined into our legal guidelines,” Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, govt director of the Jewish Neighborhood Relations Council of St. Louis and one of many plaintiffs, stated at a information convention.

Lawsuits in a number of different states take related approaches.

In Indiana, legal professionals for 5 nameless ladies — who’re Jewish, Muslim and non secular — and advocacy group Hoosier Jews for Selection have argued that state’s ban infringes on their beliefs. Their lawsuit particularly highlights the Jewish educating {that a} fetus turns into a dwelling particular person at start and that Jewish regulation prioritizes the mom’s life and well being.

A court docket ruling siding with the ladies was appealed by the Indiana lawyer normal’s workplace, which is asking the state Supreme Court docket to think about the case.

In Kentucky, three Jewish ladies sued, claiming the state’s ban violates their non secular rights underneath the state’s structure and spiritual freedom regulation. They allege that Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature “imposed sectarian theology” by prohibiting almost all abortions. The ban stays in impact whereas the Kentucky Supreme Court docket considers a separate case difficult the regulation.

However Banker stated Missouri’s lawsuit is exclusive as a result of whereas plaintiffs in different states claimed hurt, “we’re saying that the entire regulation violates separation of church and state and we’re in search of to get all the things struck down.”

Missouri Republican lawyer normal, Andrew Bailey, stated in an announcement that he’ll “defend the best to life with each instrument at my disposal.”

“I need Missouri to be the most secure state within the nation for kids and that features unborn kids,” Bailey stated.


Related Press author David A. Lieb in Jefferson Metropolis, Missouri, contributed to this report.


This story was initially printed on Jan. 19. It was up to date on Jan. 21 to right that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of 13 Jewish, Christian and Unitarian Universalist leaders, not simply Jewish and Christian leaders.