JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Supreme Court reviewed an appeal on Tuesday morning from an anonymous woman who believes the state violated her religious beliefs.
The lawsuit stems from a Greene County resident anonymously known as “Mary Doe,” who became pregnant in February of 2015, and decided to have an abortion the following May.
“It breaks my heart,” said Doe’s lawyer, W. James MacNaughton, who believes the law that’s in question has violated her freedom of religion. “For some reason, we seem to be drifting back into this idea that our worth as citizens, and our ability to control our lives have to be dictated by religion in this country.”
Based on the state’s “informed consent law,” Doe was required to accept a pamphlet which states “life begins at conception, and that an abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.” The law also requires the woman receiving an abortion wait 72 hours before making the final decision to terminate.
At the time, Doe provided doctors with a letter detailing her religious beliefs that differed from the information inside of the consent booklet. The letter detailed how she believed a “non-viable fetus is not a separate human being, but is part of her body and that abortion of a non-viable fetus does not terminate the life of a separate, unique living human being.”
The clinic, as required by law, gave Doe an ultrasound and an opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat, in addition to her acknowledging she received the pamphlet and would not perform the abortion until after the required 72-hour waiting period.
Now, Doe is challenging the informed consent law under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution.
Questions the Missouri Supreme Court must answer regarding Tuesday’s appeal hearing: 1) whether or not Doe’s claim under the Religious Freedom of Restoration Act restricts her free exercise of religion and 2) whether or not the informed consent law violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which states the state may not establish religion.
The Missouri Supreme Court will have a decision regarding Doe’s case within the next three to six months. To hear the audio stream from Tuesday morning's appeal, check out the Missouri Courts' Livestream.