Kentucky Judge Mitch Perry temporarily enjoined the state’s pro-life laws, laughably claiming that recognition of human life in the womb is an establishment of religion.
Ninety-five percent of biologists, including a strong majority of those who consider themselves pro-choice, acknowledge the scientific reality that human life begins at fertilization. Even the Justices who decided Roe v. Wade grudgingly admitted that “many physicians” take that position (though they worked hard to muddy the waters). And in the 1980 case of Harris v. McRae, which upheld the Hyde Amendment, the Supreme Court soundly rejected the notion that abortion limits contravene the Establishment Clause.
Judge Perry ignored all of those authorities. Nowhere in the opinion did he even attempt to answer the fundamental question of when human life begins. Instead, citing only statements from various faith groups, he concluded that life at fertilization is “a distinctly Christian and Catholic belief.” Never mind that there are over 12 million pro-life Americans who claim no religious affiliation at all!
If the state of Kentucky is “not permitted to single out and endorse the doctrine of a favored faith for preferred treatment” and must instead “account for the diverse views of many Kentuckians whose faith leads them to take very different views of when life begins,” as Judge Perry argues, then how can Kentucky draw any line? Is it prohibited from banning third trimester abortions because some Christian denominations believe life begins at first breath? Is it prohibited from banning infanticide because some Kentuckians might agree with Peter Singer? If someone wants to bring back the glory days of Aztec religion, is Kentucky unable to intervene in the traditional practice of human sacrifice?
The only way to avoid giving preferential treatment to one religion over another is to let science lead the way. Human life begins at fertilization. The human right to life must begin there too.
Thankfully, Judge Perry’s decision is not the last word. Kentucky’s Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, is strongly pro-life and will surely appeal. Here’s hoping that the appellate judges have seen the inside of a biology classroom.