Friday, January 20, 2023

Suit By Clergy Challenges Missouri Abortion Bans

Suit was filed this week in a Missouri state trial court by 13 clergy from several Christian denominations, as well as from Unitarian Universalist and Jewish traditions challenging a series of Missouri abortion restrictions and bans as violating the state constitution's prohibition on favoring any religion and its protection of free exercise of religion.  The 83-page complaint (full text) in Blackmon v. State of Missouri, (MO Cir. Ct., filed 1/19/2023), alleges in part:

8. This open invocation of religion in enacting H.B. 126 marked a departure from earlier legislative efforts to restrict abortion, when the sponsors claimed that their intent was to protect Missouri women. The legislative debate over those provisions reveals that, as with H.B. 126, the true purpose and effect of these laws was to enshrine certain religious beliefs in law. In enacting S.B. 5, for example, legislators spoke repeatedly of their intent to protect “innocent life,” could point as justification for the law only to biased investigations by the Senate “Sanctity of Life” Committee, and ignored the testimony of clergy who warned that targeting providers to limit abortion access impermissibly imposed one religious view on everyone else....

10. Collectively, Plaintiffs, like other clergy and faith communities all across this State, have through their work providing care, counseling, teaching, and preaching, spent decades countering the false but all too common assertion that faith and abortion access are incompatible. Their beliefs and lived experiences stand in stark contrast to the religious dictates that the Total Abortion Ban, Gestational Age Bans, Reason Ban, 72-Hour Delay, Same-Physician Requirement, Medication Abortion Restrictions, and Concurrent Original Jurisdiction Provision (collectively, the “Challenged Provisions”) impose on all Missourians.

NPR reports on the lawsuit.