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Rev. Traci Blackmon speaks Thursday during a news conference in St. Louis announcing a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s pro-life laws. Submitted photo.

Liberal Christian, Jewish groups sue to stop Missouri pro-life laws

Several pro-abortion religious groups on Thursday filed a legal challenge against the law that bans most abortions in Missouri. The lawsuit filed in St. Louis on behalf of 13 progressive Christian, Jewish land Unitarian eaders seeks a permanent injunction barring the state from enforcing its abortion law and a declaration that provisions of its law violate the Missouri Constitution.

The lawsuit is being sponsored by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the National Women’s Law Center.

“What the lawsuit says is that when you legislate your religious beliefs into law, you impose your beliefs on everyone else and force all of us to live by your own narrow beliefs,” said Michelle Banker of the National Women’s Law Center, lead attorney in the case. “And that hurts us. That denies our basic human rights.”

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 five to 15 years in prison to perform or induce an abortion. Medical professionals who do so also could lose their licenses. The law says that women who undergo abortions cannot be prosecuted.

The lawsuit said sponsors and supporters of the Missouri measure “repeatedly emphasized their religious intent in enacting the legislation.” It quotes the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Nick Schroer, as saying that “as a Catholic I do believe life begins at conception and that is built into our legislative findings.” A co-sponsor, Republican state Rep. Barry Hovis, said he was motivated “from the biblical side of it,” according to the lawsuit.

“Our elected officials have violated their oath to uphold that constitution by weaponizing religious beliefs to deny abortion access in a state where studies prove these actions are not the will of the majority of the people,” said Rev. Traci Blackmon, the lead plaintiff, speaking at a news conference Thursday.

The lawsuit is the latest of many to challenge restrictive abortion laws 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 abortion rights supporters have increasingly used religious freedom lawsuits in seeking to protect abortion access. 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.

–Dwight Widaman | MV

One comment

  1. They all should reread the Bible. Abortion IS against our almighty God. This country AND the Constitution was built on the promise of keeping God in all the laws of this country.

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