Five lawsuits from religious figures involved in the Christian, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, and Buddhist faiths were filed on Monday against a new Florida ban on almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The ban went into effect earlier this month, and it contains no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest, although there are exceptions for situations where the pregnant person’s life is in danger. The law also has exceptions for circumstances in which the pregnant person could sustain certain, serious injuries and where a fatal fetal defect was detected. The cut-off point is earlier than states could ordinarily restrict abortion before the Supreme Court’s recent conclusions in Dobbs, the case in which the conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade and left state officials freer to regulate abortion according to their political ambitions. A total of seven religious leaders were participating in the newly filed litigation against the Florida abortion ban, and the group based its arguments on their religious beliefs, which — unlike the interpretations of faith traditions dominated by conservatives — support reproductive healthcare rights.
The Rev. Laurie Hafner, a minister at a southern Florida church associated with the Christian denomination known as the United Church of Christ, told The Washington Post: “The religious right has had the resources and the voices politically and socially to be so loud, and frankly, they don’t represent the Christian faith… Those of us on the other side, with maybe a more inclusive voice, need to be strong and more faithful and say: ‘There is another very important voice.'” The new lawsuits — including one in which Hafner is involved — employ largely identical language. The Ron DeSantis-touted abortion ban establishes “a pernicious elevation of the legal rights of fetuses while at the same time it devalues the quality of life and the health of the woman or girl who is pregnant. It is in direct conflict with Plaintiff’s clerical obligations and faith and imposes severe barriers and substantial burdens to their religious belief, speech and conduct,” according to each case.
Others challenging abortion-related regulations pushed by Republicans are also using arguments that the demands are in conflict with principles of religious liberty. There was a court case filed in Florida by a Jewish congregation in southern Florida before the 15-week abortion ban took effect, and interests challenging Indiana regulations demanding that fetal tissue from abortions and miscarriages be buried or cremated said those measures forced residents of Indiana “to act in accordance with the State’s view of personhood irrespective of their own beliefs about the status of developing human life.” In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis already indicated after Roe was overturned he’d be interested in additional state-level abortion restrictions. Read more at this link.