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Judge Sengheiser upholds Missouri very protective abortion law, rejects ‘religious freedom’ challenge from faith leaders

by | Jun 17, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

On Friday St. Louis Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser rejected a call for a permanent injunction of a law that pro-abortionists say violates the separation of church and state. The case was filed by Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders who support abortion and included Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the National Women’s Law Center.

House Bill 126, often referred to as the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act,” is one of the nation’s strongest pro-life laws. Abortions are only permitted in situations “to avert the death of the pregnant woman or for which a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

One section of HB126 reads: “In recognition that Almighty God is the author of life, that all men and women are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ that among those are Life.’”

The plaintiffs “believe that the insertion of religious language into the legislative process contravenes the state constitution,” wrote Anugrah Kumar for the Christian Post. “They objected to one section of the statute that reads: ‘In recognition that Almighty God is the author of life, that all men and women are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life.’”

However, according to Anna Spoerre, Judge Sengheiser

said there is similar language in the preamble to the Missouri Constitution, which expresses “profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.” The rest of the challenged provisions contain no explicit religious language, he said. …

Judge Sengheiser added

“The Court finds that the restrictions in the ban are consistent with Missouri’s historical criminalization of and restrictions of abortion. Essentially, the only thing that changed is that Roe was reversed, opening the door to this further regulation. Dobbs provided in part that the State has an ‘interest in protecting prenatal life’ even ‘before viability.’ The Total Abortion Ban is consistent with this interest and a result of the holding in Dobbs.” 

In his 44-page ruling Judge Sengheiser concluded

“While the determination that life begins at conception may run counter to some religious beliefs, it is not itself necessarily a religious belief. As such, it does not prevent all men and women from worshipping Almighty God or not worshipping according to the dictates of their own consciences.”

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office defended the legislation. “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,” he said. “Having lost a child, this issue is personal for me. My office will continue to use every tool at its disposal to protect the unborn. Our children are worth the fight.”

Categories: State Legislation