ST. LOUIS – A crucial court hearing on a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s controversial abortion ban is set to take place on Thursday. The case could have major implications for the future of Missouri’s law, which bans most abortions.
The hearing is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at the Carnahan Courthouse downtown. The lawsuit was filed back in January against the state of Missouri on behalf of more than a dozen different religious leaders who support abortion rights and want Missouri’s law overturned. The suit claims that Missouri’s abortion ban violates the state’s commitment to the separation of church and state. It seeks a permanent injunction barring the state from enforcing its abortion law and also a declaration that provisions of the law violate the Missouri constitution.
The lawsuit argues that the Missouri lawmakers who passed the current abortion law imposed their own religious beliefs on others who don’t share them. The Brennan Center for Justice says the case is among 38 lawsuits that have been filed in 23 states challenging restrictive abortion laws enacted after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Following that landmark ruling by the Supreme Court last year, Missouri’s then Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Governor Parson filed paperwork to immediately enact a 2019 law prohibiting abortions in Missouri except in cases of medical emergencies.
The law makes it a felony punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison to perform or induce an abortion in Missouri. Medical professionals who perform abortions could also lose their licenses.
Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, a Republican, has called the lawsuit “foolish” and says lawmakers “were acting on the belief that life is precious and should be treated as such” when they enacted the law.
Cameras are allowed in the courtroom. FOX 2 will update this story with more information as it becomes available.