The legal footing of the suit is tenuous, Douglas Laycock, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia Law School, wrote in an email. There is likely only a small window of possible litigation, given that exceptions for a mother’s survival are built into the Florida law.

“To claim that my religion permits abortion, or that this statute addresses a point of religious disagreement, is not nearly enough,” he wrote. “It is not what your religion permits that is protected, but what you do principally for religious reasons.”

But while the suit may not succeed, its central argument may prove prescient, said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California Davis School of Law and an expert on abortion history, politics and law.

“If this lawsuit isn’t the one, there’s going to be a lawsuit with a pregnant person who’s going to say the same thing,” she said.

There is precedent, too, for progressive efforts to expand abortion access on the basis of religious liberty, Professor Ziegler noted. Nearly 50 years ago, during discussions around the Hyde Amendment — first passed in 1976, barring the use of federal funds for most abortions — some on the religious left argued that the provision violated the separation of church and state and the free exercise of religion.

Now, as the Supreme Court adopts a broader interpretation of the First Amendment’s right to the free exercise of religion, some progressives have begun to reconsider that argument.

“This is kind of calling the Supreme Court on the idea that if religious liberty is really for everyone, then there should be winners and losers of all kinds, and the winners should not only hold a particular subset of beliefs,” Professor Ziegler said.

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