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Religious Freedom Arguments Underpin Wave of Challenges to Abortion Bans


One patient, Mikayla, 28, who asked to be identified by her first name to guard her privacy, drove from Texas to an Albuquerque airport hotel to make use of the service , and allowed The Recent York Times to watch. During video medical consultations, a nurse practitioner and patient care coordinator discussed effects like cramping and bleeding and urged her to call their 24-hour nurse hotline with questions or concerns.

After she received the medication, the method took a special turn. Via Zoom, a minister prompted Mikayla to look in a mirror to reflect on self-empowerment and recite: “One’s body is inviolable, subject to 1’s own will alone.” After swallowing the primary pill within the two-drug regimen, Mikayla recited a tenet about prioritizing science. The minister advised that after the pregnancy tissue was eventually expelled, Mikayla could recite: “By my body, my blood. By my will, it is completed.”

Legal experts said some religious freedom lawsuits looking for abortion rights might succeed, given recent Supreme Court decisions that “supported religious exemptions even in cases where there are really strong health and questions of safety,” said Elizabeth Reiner Platt, director of the Law, Rights and Religion Project at Columbia University. Arguments for exemptions may also be persuasive because most abortion bans have some exceptions, like rape, experts said.

“These must be very strong, compelling cases, but I also acknowledge that this can be a highly political issue,” Ms. Platt said.

Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law Houston who has criticized the lawsuits, questioned the plaintiffs’ legal standing, saying, “Lots of these women are sort of creating prospective claims that, At some point, I may be pregnant, and sooner or later, I might need this problem and that may require me to have an abortion.”

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