Hospitals across the U.S. South strictly regulate the provision of abortion, leading to delays and denials of care for patients facing severe pregnancy complications according to a new report released on November 16th by Columbia Law School’s Law, Rights, and Religion Project (LRRP) in partnership with investigative reporter Amy Littlefield. While such restrictions at Catholic hospitals are well known, the report breaks new ground in uncovering abortion policies at Protestant and secular—including public—facilities. With abortion rights now directly at risk, as the Supreme Court hears a case challenging Roe v. Wade on December 1, hospital abortion bans could have an even more severe impact on patients. Learn more and download the full report here.

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In June 2021, we released We The People (of Faith): The Supremacy of Religious Rights in the Shadow of a Pandemic, a report that shows how the Supreme Court’s COVID-era opinions have created a hierarchy of constitutional rights, with religious rights at the top. This legal regime will have a resounding impact on U.S. law, affecting policymakers’ ability to protect public health, prevent discrimination, and secure labor rights long after the current COVID-19 crisis has abated.

Key points of the report include:
  • The Supreme Court has created an unprecedented “discrimination on steroids” test for finding that a law is unfair to religious practice.
  • The Supreme Court has awarded far greater protection to the right to free exercise of religion during the COVID pandemic than other rights.
  • In its COVID/Free Exercise opinions, the Court has declined to award deference to scientific experts and has even seemingly reject common knowledge.

Learn more and download the report here.

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The Law, Rights, and Religion Project's Mission

The Law, Rights, and Religion Project, formerly the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, is a law and policy think tank based at Columbia Law School that promotes social justice, freedom of religion, and religious pluralism. We develop strategic thought leadership on the complex ways in which religious liberty rights interact with other fundamental rights. 

Our mission is to ensure that laws and policies reflect the understanding that the right to free exercise of religion protects all religious beliefs and communities, including the non-religious; requires respect for religious pluralism and equality principles; and must be balanced against other liberty and equality rights where they are in conflict. Our work takes the form of legal research and scholarship, public policy interventions, advocacy support, and academic and media publications.