Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, Missouri's then-Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Governor Mike Parson, both Republicans, filed paperwork to immediately enact a 2019 law prohibiting abortions "except in cases of medical emergency."
The law makes it a felony, punishable by 5-15 years in prison, to perform or induce an abortion, and medical professionals who do so could lose their licenses. Women who undergo abortions, however, cannot be prosecuted.
"The laws that we have, that we're defending right now, are for the protection of unborn babies from the moment of conception," explains Susan Klein of Missouri Right to Life.
But many, including some religious leaders, do not want that.
Earlier this year, 13 Christian, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist leaders filed suit seeking a permanent injunction on the abortion ban. Their argument is Missouri lawmakers intended to "impose their religious beliefs on everyone" in the state when they passed the abortion ban.
Attorneys for the state, however, point out that just because some supporters of the law oppose abortion on religious grounds does not mean the law forces their beliefs on anyone.
"This is an issue that even though we all are people of faith, we fight it from different perspectives," says Klein. "But if we are defending life and being the voice for that unborn baby, then I think that we should have the right to do that."
She adds that this lawsuit is not the first time a religious challenge for abortion has been heard in court.
"The Satanist churches in the past have filed religious lawsuits under the title of being a religious lawsuit and taking away their religious rights, and they have failed," Klein notes. "I believe the court will look at this again, and it will fail in Missouri as well."
The state has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. A ruling is not expected until January.
In Virginia, Olivia Turner of the Virginia Society for Human Life says Democrats are delivering on their abortion promises and have set their sights on the state constitution.
The first bill (HJ1) filed for the Democrat-controlled legislature to consider "would make abortion legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever, with absolutely no opportunity for any rational, commonsense, protective legislation that could affect access to unlimited abortion," Turner details. "It's a very diabolical bill."
She says Democrats are denying the truth about the measure – a tactic they frequently employ to sell abortion legislation.
"Despite the coy comments of Democrats that … this won't change the standard, we know from other states that have amendments like this, like Vermont, New York, and California, that it actually wipes out all existing pro-life legislation and prevents any future legislation," the pro-lifer notes. "It's a terrible, terrible thing."
If the amendment passes in two consecutive legislative sessions, it will go on a 2026 ballot.
"The shot has been fired across the bow," Turner asserts. "Pro-lifers need to pay attention, and they need to be aware that this is the game that they will play for the next two years leading up to the 2025 elections."