Women suing Kentucky for religious freedom of abortion head to court

Alaska, Ohio, homicide, reigios freedom, abortion

In 2022, three Jewish women sued the state of Kentucky over its law protecting preborn children from abortion, claiming the law violates their religious freedom. Nearly two years later, they’re getting their day in court.

Jessica Kalb, Sarah Baron, and Lisa Sobel claim that the law’s statement that life begins at conception is a religious belief and that the law prevents them from growing their families. Kalb, who has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), has nine embryos currently frozen, but she isn’t willing to use them out of fear that there may be complications. “I have these nine embryos that are viable. I only needed one transfer to become pregnant,” she said. “The way the law is written, I could have to deal with nine pregnancies. And I’m 33, about to be 34. It’s a really scary situation, especially to have all of this publicly known.”

The Kentucky law states that abortion is only allowed if the woman is facing imminent danger of death or permanent injury. Since abortion is permissible when a woman’s life is at risk, any complications Kalb and the others are concerned about may be a diagnosis for the child. Even some pro-lifers wrongly believe that its justifiable to kill a child through abortion because they have a disability or a life-limiting condition.

Sobel likewise said she is scared to try IVF again, which she has tried unsuccessfully in the past. She claimed that under the law, she would not be able to keep any of her embryos frozen indefinitely or have them destroyed. “Being a Kentuckian is who I am,” Sobel said. “I shouldn’t have to leave in order to grow my family. I shouldn’t have to leave because the legislators don’t want to recognize that my faith matters too.”

Lindsey Keiser, a lawyer with the Kentucky Attorney General’s office, dismissed these arguments. “IVF is permissible, and the disposal of embryos treated by IVF but not yet implanted will not trigger criminal penalties,” she said. “The only statutory restriction on IVF relates to public medical facilities.”

READ: Couple was asked to consider aborting their second baby after older son was diagnosed

A lawyer for one of the women, Benjamin Potash, argued, “Kentucky is codifying the religious viewpoint that life begins at conception. And they’ve defined the fertilized egg as a human being,” he said.

Keiser dismissed this claim. “The commonwealth’s interest in preserving life encompasses fostering respect for the sanctity of human life and supporting the ability of the human being to live for however long that might be,” she said, referring to non-viable pregnancies. “Kentucky’s Constitution has never required complete absence of religion or religious references in state activity or statutes.”

The fact that life begins at fertilization is not a religious belief; it is a scientific one. Dr. Tara Sander Lee is a molecular geneticist with over 20 years of experience in academic and clinical medicine, including a fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and a molecular pathology inspector for the College of American Pathologists. She explained that it is a scientific certainty that life begins at fertilization.

“At the moment a sperm fuses with an egg (known as fertilization or conception), a new, unique human being that is genetically distinct from both parents comes into existence,” Lee explained in a video for Live Action. “Gender, ethnicity, hair color, eye color, and countless other traits are determined at that moment. This genetic blueprint remains the same for his or her entire life, and no other human being past or future will have one identical to it.”

Despite this scientific fact, a similar lawsuit was successful in Indiana. A group comprising five women, as well as Hoosier Jews for Choice, filed the suit, claiming the law violated Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), in a case brought by the ACLU. This decision was roundly criticized, including by Secular Pro-Life. Kelsey Hazzard, the founder and president, said the ruling was so broad, that it essentially made human sacrifice legal under Indiana law in the name of religious freedom. “If a state permits a single legal abortion, by this logic, it must permit abortions for anyone who claims a religious motivation,” she said, adding, “And here’s the kicker: they forgot that Indiana has similar exceptions to homicide. […] Because Indiana has legislated at least two exceptions to its homicide law, Indiana does not have a compelling interest in enforcing that law against religiously motivated murderers. Let the legal human sacrifices and honor killings begin!”

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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