WaPo's Jennifer Rubin calls for a 'conscience' exemption for abortion in states with bans

More than 2 dozen states restrict abortions after Roe v. Wade was overturned in Dobbs decision

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Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin suggested that abortion bans in some states could actually violate religious beliefs in a column on Sunday.

Rubin introduced the subject by referencing a lawsuit brought up by the Jewish Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor against the 15-week abortion ban in Florida. The congregation argued that Jewish law "does not consider life to begin at conception or at 15 weeks" and refusing an abortion could violate their beliefs.

Though Rubin questioned whether this would sufficiently infringe on "First Amendment rights and the state constitution’s free-exercise clause," she still considered the issue "important."

"In any event, this is an issue the forced-birth crowd should care about. For years, right-wingers have strenuously insisted on religious carve-outs to allow employers to avoid government mandates for contraception coverage or health providers to deny certain services they disagreed with. While the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act mandating conscience clauses was ruled unconstitutional as it applied to the states, 21 states have conscience clause laws in place as a matter of state law. Those just happen to include many of the states that have the most severe abortion bans in place," Rubin wrote.

Washington Post columnist and defending "Liberal Hack Tournament" champion Jennifer Rubin. 

Washington Post columnist and defending "Liberal Hack Tournament" champion Jennifer Rubin.  ((Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images))

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She further claimed that this lawsuit could prove that efforts to ban or limit abortion are motivated not solely by a religious perspective but a pro-Christian worldview.

"Failure to respect faith traditions with regard to abortion bans would prove that the right is looking out for Christians — and that it is willing to blithely infringe upon the rights of other religious groups," Rubin wrote. 

She added, "We will see whether state or federal constitutional claims invoking free-exercise clauses can prevail against state abortion bans. In the meantime, forced-birth advocates should be honest enough to acknowledge that protections for ‘fetal life’ are nothing more than state enactment of a particular religious dogma."

Pro-choice activists have protested outside churches in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.

Pro-choice activists have protested outside churches in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Rubin had previously warned of a "state-enforced theocracy" should the Supreme Court overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. After the justices finalized their decision in the Dobbs ruling, the former conservative columnist claimed that pro-life Republicans advocated "forced birth."

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Her disdain for pro-life politicians continued in this latest piece.

"Moreover," Rubin closed, "they should ask themselves: If they value the right to opt out of state laws to protect their religious views, why do they find it acceptable to deny the same protections for those who don’t agree that personhood starts at conception?"

A general view of the exterior of The Washington Post Company headquarters in Washington, March 30, 2012. 

A general view of the exterior of The Washington Post Company headquarters in Washington, March 30, 2012.  (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

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The Washington Post has published several columns in support of pro-choice policies and against the pro-life movement since Roe v. Wade was overturned.