In the latest challenge to the Supreme Court’s decision to devastate abortion access in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, three Jewish women in Kentucky filed a lawsuit against the state’s abortion restrictions on religious grounds. Their suit says that the state’s abortion ban violates Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that limits the state’s ability to burden a person’s freedom of religion. The lawsuit is a stark reminder that abortion bans are in direct violation of an inclusive vision of religious freedom, instead imposing one set of beliefs on all.
“Abortion restrictions directly impede Jews’ ability to put our religious traditions into practice, violating the establishment clause, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over others, as well as our 14th Amendment right to privacy,” wrote Katy Joseph, director of policy and advocacy for Interfaith Alliance.
Our Right to Seek Healthcare Based On Personal Beliefs
Various religious traditions approach matters of healthcare differently and people of all faiths and none seek comprehensive reproductive services, including abortion, every year. Before the Spring 2022 Dobbs decision, laws regarding abortion up to viability respected these theological differences and enabled patients to make decisions based on their own beliefs and circumstances, not the religious views of their state legislators. But the pre-viability bans enacted immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling do just that, placing abortion out of reach for millions of people and imposing one set of views on all residents of a given state. These restrictions also disproportionately impact marginalized communities, including communities of color, young people, and those in rural and underserved areas.
Rabbi Jack Moline, former president of Interfaith Alliance, emphasized the consequences of states enacting medically unnecessary restrictions, saying, “These debates over legislating health care by religious values put more at stake than politicians’ beliefs. These laws can make it impossible for people of differing faith or conscience to receive the treatments their own values demand, and thus deliver the clear message that the protections of the Constitution do not apply to them. That doesn’t uphold our sacred principles; it undermines them.”
The Kentucky lawsuit, and similar ones across the country, are a reminder that the Dobbs decision only protects one set of views at the cost of the diverse beliefs held by the rest of Americans. For nearly three decades, Interfaith Alliance has led the fight for an inclusive vision of religious freedom that protects people of all faiths and none. Our commitment to this basic right demands that we speak out against threats to religious freedom, no matter the circumstance and with a collective voice informed by our individual beliefs and experiences.
Learn more about our work to protect the ability to access reproductive healthcare here.