NRL News

Judge dismisses lawsuit that claimed Missouri pro-life law was based on ‘religious beliefs’

by | Jun 20, 2024

By Bridget Sielicki

A judge in St. Louis, Missouri, has dismissed a lawsuit from a group of clergy members who contended that the state’s pro-life protections violate the separation of church and state.

The 14 clergy members, among them Christian, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist leaders who support abortion, filed their lawsuit last year against the state’s law that protects nearly all preborn children from abortion. In their complaint, the plaintiffs took issue with the portion of the state law that says “life begins at conception,” arguing that through this claim, lawmakers had “weaponized their religious beliefs.” The group had asked for an injunction against the pro-life law due to this claim.

“By legislating that life begins at ‘conception,’ the Missouri legislature dictates a narrowly Christian perspective onto all of Missouri’s diverse faith communities,” the lawsuit claimed.

In his ruling, St. Louis Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser said that protecting the state’s preborn does not violate any separation of church and state, as it is not based on religion. “While the determination that life begins at conception may run counter to some religious beliefs,” he wrote, “it is not itself necessarily a religious belief.”

Indeed, as Live Action News has previously pointed out, the teaching that life begins at the moment of fertilization is a fact firmly rooted in science — not a religious belief.

Attorney General Andrew Bailey released a statement shortly after Sengheiser’s ruling. “Today is a major win for women and their unborn children as a Missouri court sided with our office yet again in our efforts to defend the sanctity of life,” said Bailey. “My office will continue to use every tool at its disposal to protect the unborn. Our children are worth the fight.”

The Americans United for Separation of Church & State and the National Women’s Law Center, who were jointly representing the clergy members, have said they may appeal the decision. “Missouri’s abortion ban is a direct attack on the separation of church and state, religious freedom and reproductive freedom,” they said in a statement. “Missouri lawmakers made clear that they were imposing their personal religious beliefs on all Missourians when they enacted these laws.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Judicial