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When does life begin? Exploring how different religions answer the question

The outside of the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019, the last location in the state performing abortions. - A US court weighed the fate of the last abortion clinic in Missouri on May 30, with the state hours away from becoming the first in 45 years to no longer offer the procedure amid a nationwide push to curtail access to abortion. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
The outside of the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019, the last location in the state performing abortions. - A US court weighed the fate of the last abortion clinic in Missouri on May 30, with the state hours away from becoming the first in 45 years to no longer offer the procedure amid a nationwide push to curtail access to abortion. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

When he argued for overturning Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court, Mississippi’s Solicitor General Scott Stewart declared:

“Nowhere else does this court recognize a right to end human life.”

Mostly true, with the glaring exception of the death penalty, which recognizes the government’s right to end a human life.

But with respect to abortion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor told Stewart his declaration raises even deeper questions:

“When you say this is the only right that takes away from the state the ability to protect a life, that’s a religious view, isn’t it? Cause it assumes that a fetus is life at … when? … When do you suggest we begin that life?”

Today, On Point: Can Americans practice free exercise of religion, if one religious view dominates access to abortion?

Guests

Elizabeth Reiner Platt, director of the law, rights and religion project at Columbia University Law School. (@lizrplatt)

Rabba Sara Hurwitz, dean of Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as clergy.

Also Featured

Safiya Ravat, co-founder of the Suhbah Institute, an Islamic counseling center in Houston, TX.

Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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