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Could Missouri’s Abortion Ban Be Overturned?

February 10th, 2023

West Virginia's governor signed an abortion restriction into law, making the state the second to restrict abortion since the fall of Roe.
Missouri is being sued by religious leaders who want to overturn its abortion ban because it violates their religious beliefs.

Abortion is always a complex topic to discuss – no matter which side of the debate you find yourself on. It seems clear that some people will never agree on the outcome of Roe v. Wade or its recent overturning. While some states have continued to allow abortions, or even moved to expand abortion access, others have moved to curtail abortion or ban it outright. Among the dozens of lawsuits filed against these abortion prohibitions, Missouri is the latest state to become embroiled in legal battles over its abortion ban.

Religious Leaders Seek to Overturn Abortion Ban in Missouri

On January 19, 2023, it was reported that a group of Christian and Jewish religious leaders in Missouri had filed a lawsuit in an attempt to overturn the state’s abortion ban. They allege that state lawmakers followed their own religious beliefs when drafting the abortion ban, and this means that they are imposing these beliefs on others without consent. This has become a common argument, as abortion rights supporters have used the concept of religious freedom to challenge abortion bans in many states after Roe v. Wade was overturned. In total, almost 36 of these lawsuits have been filed in various anti-abortion states. 

In Missouri, the plaintiffs identify as both Jewish and Christian, and these faith leaders claim that the state is openly violating its own Constitution by banning abortions. According to the lead attorney in the case:

“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. And that hurts us. That denies our basic human rights.”

Currently, it is a felony to perform or induce an abortion in Missouri, with violators facing up to 15 years in prison. Medical professionals will also lose their licenses if they perform abortions. Women who undergo these procedures have immunity from criminal charges. It is also worth noting that Missouri’s abortion laws were incredibly restrictive even before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and many residents had to travel to Illinois or Kansas in order to access abortion. 

Using Religious Freedom Arguments to Fight An Abortion Ban

In other states like Kentucky, Jewish activist groups have argued that their faith teaches very different values when it comes to abortion. For example, they point out that their religion clearly states that life begins at conception – theoretically providing total freedom to conduct abortions. As a result, they argue that the abortion ban violates their religious liberties and imposes other religious beliefs on them without their consent. 

But Missouri’s plaintiffs are taking a different approach – stating that the real problem is the lack of separation between church and state. Missouri’s lawmakers openly talked about their own religious beliefs before drafting the anti-abortion measures, potentially providing a vulnerability in defending the abortion ban in court. For example, Republican Rep. Nick Schroer is Catholic, and stated that his beliefs about when life begins is “built into [his] legislative findings.” Republican state Rep. Barry Hovis said he was motivated “by “from the Biblical side of it.”

Continue Reading the Universal Life Church’s Blog

With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion has become one of the most hotly debated subjects that positions some religious beliefs against other religious beliefs and those rights afforded to individual bodily autonomy. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting the most noteworthy cases involving abortion. Our blog strives to document these cases in a way that examines both sides of each argument.

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