The judge who put Kentucky's abortion ban on hold last week used different and alarming legal reasoning, saying the ban violates the alleged "separation of church and state." Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry wrote in his temporary stay on Kentucky's near total ban on abortions that the concept of life beginning at conception is a "distinctly Christian and Catholic belief," and that "such theocratic-based policymaking" is an unconstitutional endorsement of a religion.
Indeed, Christian and Catholic teachings both proclaim that life begins at conception – but Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Denise Harle says those two segments of the faith community are hardly the only groups who believe that. As she points out: "Biologists overwhelmingly agree."
She continues: "Every biology textbook will tell you that that is an unborn human being at the moment of conception when pregnancy begins."
Dr. David Prentice with Charlotte Lozier Institute agrees:
"Judge Perry's ruling ignores not just elementary school biology but also the consensus of more than 5,000 academic biologists from more than 1,000 academic institutions around the world. Yes, Christians believe that life begins at fertilization. So does science! In fact, 85% of the biologists surveyed self-identify as pro-choice. While politicians and pundits may allow their ideology to override scientific fact, the vast majority of academic biologists do not. Science proves that life begins at fertilization."
Harle says it's irresponsible to ignore the science and blame religious belief; in fact, she tells AFN that the decision sounds like a result in search of a cause. "This looks like a judge who wanted a certain outcome and he wants abortions to continue," she says. "And so, he was coming up with a reason."
The ADF attorney also contends Perry's ruling conflicts with the Supreme Court's recent Dobbs decision, which sent the abortion issue back to the states. "The citizens of Kentucky, by the way, have elected lawmakers who have enacted these policy preferences because that's what the people of Kentucky, whatever their faith traditions might be, that's what they support."
Harle says she's only seen a couple of other decisions that push the religious establishment argument; but with lawsuits piling up at the state level, she suggests more pro-abortion judges could try to take a bite at that apple.
"We've seen that in a couple other states as we see a desperate last grab to keep the abortion clinic doors open and to keep those profits coming," she concludes.
Daniel Cameron, the attorney general for Kentucky and a Republican candidate for governor, was disappointed by the ruling and has stated he will appeal it to the state appeals court.
"The judge's suggestion that Kentucky's constitution contains a right to abortion is not grounded in the text and history of our state's governing document," Cameron said in a prepared statement. "We will continue our steadfast defense of these bipartisan laws that represent the Commonwealth's commitment to the lives of the unborn."