Section 3. Freedom of religious opinion. No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religeous [sic] opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience. —

Could someone who has a religious belief that abortion is wrong use this section to prevent the state from using his/her taxes to fund abortion?

  • 1
    (guess) only if someone who has a religious belief against paying taxes could refuse to pay taxes
    – user253751
    May 11, 2022 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


In US v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252, the Supreme Court held that

While there is a conflict between the Amish faith and the obligations imposed by the social security system, not all burdens on religion are unconstitutional. The state may justify a limitation on religious liberty by showing that it is essential to accomplish an overriding governmental interest.


There is no principled way, for purposes of this case, to distinguish between general taxes and those imposed under the Social Security Act. The tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge it because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief. Because the broad public interest in maintaining a sound tax system is of such a high order, religious belief in conflict with the payment of taxes affords no basis for resisting the tax.

Since Measure 106 (a constitutional amendment prohibiting such use of state funds) was defeated, this falls within the purview of the legislatures general tax-and-spend privilege. HB 3391, which generally requires insurance providers to cover the cost of an abortion (thus shifting the burden away from the taxpayer), does carve out an exception for religious employers, but the law does require the state to "design a program to provide statewide access to abortion coverage for Oregon residents enrolled in health benefit plans described in section 2 (7)(e) and (9) of this 2017 Act" and even requires that "If funding is available, take any actions authorized by state law to implement the program described in subsection (2) of this section", therefore taxpayer funds are used to fund abortions.

The impediment to a religious-freedom argument is that religious freedom is not absolute, it is balanced against "compelling state interests". State funding of abortion comes from the general fund and there is no special "abortion tax" to which a taxpayer can legally object. It is uncontroversial that religious freedom does not exempt one from paying taxes, see for example Tyms-Bey v. Indiana, where the court rules that "the State's compelling interest in a uniform and mandatory taxation system falls into the statutory exception such that RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] affords no relief to Tyms-Bey".

  • isn't taxpayer sanding decidedly not a thing?
    – Trish
    May 11, 2022 at 20:43

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