Religious leaders challenge Missouri’s abortion ban, cite separation of church and state

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ST. LOUIS – Religious leaders appeared in court Thursday in Downtown St. Louis to fight against Missouri’s abortion ban. The case could have major implications for the future of Missouri’s law, which bans most abortions.

Some religious leaders claim the state law violates the separation of church and state.

“They sued us back in January, and we are here to defend the abortion laws that the people of Missouri passed through their elected representatives,” said Joshua Divine. “We have been fighting this for the past 11 months.”

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In June, faith leaders won a motion to move forward with their abortion ban challenge.

“We hope that the court will recognize that this is clearly the intent and purpose of the legislature to impose their religious beliefs on everyone in Missouri by passing this abortion ban, and [we hope the courts] strike it down,” said K.M. Bell, Senior Litigation Counsel with the National Women’s Law Center.

Leaders seek a permanent injunction barring Missouri from enforcing its abortion law, saying provisions violate the state constitution.

“These laws were passed in 2017 and 2019, and we want the court to really be looking at the law as it exists today, rather than in the 1800s,” said Bell.

Missouri enacted a 2019 law banning abortions except in cases of medical emergencies. After Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, medical professionals who perform abortions in Missouri could lose their licenses.

“The problem with their position is fundamentally this: They are trying to resurrect a long discredited theory that the Supreme Court rejected six decades ago,” said Divine.

A judge isn’t expected to move forward with a ruling until January.


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