Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Religious Challenge To Missouri Informed Consent Abortion Law Goes To State High Court

In Doe v. Greitens, (MO App., Oct. 3, 2017), a Missouri appellate court transferred to the state Supreme Court an appeal in a religious freedom challenge to the state's abortion Informed Consent Law.  Missouri's law requires that a person seeking an abortion first receive a booklet containing specified information, including a statement that life begins at conception and that abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.  It also requires that the woman be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound and hear a fetal heartbeat, and then wait 72 hours before the abortion procedure.  According to the court:
Ms. Doe has alleged that the Informed Consent Law restricted her free exercise of religion and constitutes the state’s establishment of religion. The law, allegedly based on a religious tenet, required that she act and spend time and money, before undergoing a medical procedure in this state, contrary to actions—substantially motivated by her sincerely held religious beliefs—that she would have taken or refused to undertake....
Ms. Doe has alleged that Missouri’s Informed Consent Law unconstitutionally fosters an excessive government entanglement with religion in violation of the Establishment Clause. In this regard, she claims that the sole purpose of the law is to indoctrinate pregnant women into the belief held by some, but not all, Christians that a separate and unique human being begins at conception. Because the law does not recognize or include other beliefs, she contends that it establishes an official religion and makes clear that the state disapproves of her beliefs.
Under Missouri law, a transfer to the Supreme Court is required where a constitutional claims are real and substantial.