For Immediate Release
Kate Uesugi, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-238-9088 (ext. 105)
(Washington, DC, September 20, 2021) – The American Humanist Association (AHA) has joined Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, filed today with the Supreme Court of the United States. This May, the Court granted review in Dobbs, which challenges the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. The friend of the court brief argues that the justices should affirm the Fifth Circuit’s ruling to protect abortion and reproductive rights for all.
“The separation of church and state forbids the government from imposing fundamentalist Christian doctrine on citizens,” noted AHA Legal Director and Senior Counsel Monica Miller. “We gladly join our secular and religious allies in combatting this unconstitutional assault on bodies of those who seek abortion.”
Mississippi passed the legal restrictions at the heart of the Dobbs case in 2018. The law was challenged by Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only licensed abortion provider in the state. This will be the first time, since the landmark abortion decision in Roe v. Wade, in which the Court will rule on the constitutionality of a pre-viability abortion ban.
The brief, authored by counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State and joined by the AHA along with the Interfaith Alliance Foundation and Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, argues that U.S. religious pluralism makes government involvement in questions of theology problematic.
“To those who do not [hold religious beliefs], however, the action is illegitimate, if not impious,” according to the brief. “And when there are insufficient genuine, religiously neutral objectives for regulation, what is left in the eyes of religious dissenters is a naked exercise of power that cannot be squared with equal rights of conscience for all.”
The decisions made in this case will have major implications for abortion access throughout the country, and may even upend the protection of abortion rights precedent set with Roe v. Wade. Just a few weeks ago, Texas Governor Abbot signed into law a near-total abortion ban, effectively barring the procedure after six weeks. The Supreme Court declined to intervene and the state law went into effect on September 1st, drastically restricting abortion access for Texans.
“The right to make decisions about our own body, future, and family, is a human right that we should all be entitled to,” said AHA Board President Sunil Panikkath. “The AHA will continue to fight for abortion access for all and to strengthen the separation of church and state inherent in our Constitution.”
Arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will be heard December 1.
A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.