The Satanic Temple claims abortion restrictions in Missouri violates the “sincerely held religious beliefs” of their members.
Turnabout is fair play: A Missouri Satanist is challenging the state’s mandatory 72-hour waiting period for an abortion by claiming the restriction violates her sincerely held religious beliefs.
In a detailed post for Medium, Jex Blackmore, National spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, explains:
For over two years, The Satanic Temple (TST) has pursued a lawsuit against the Governor and Attorney General of Missouri, alleging that the State’s mandated “informed consent” materials, ultrasound, and 72-hour waiting period violated a member of The Satanic Temple’s First Amendment rights.
Slate reports on the case:
On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state’s abortion restrictions violate worshippers’ rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and “consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree” during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.
Think Progress gives background and context to The Satanic Temple’s efforts:
The Satanic Temple has turned its attention to abortion restrictions in recent years, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby found that closely held businesses that have religious objections to contraceptives should not be required to cover them on their employees’ insurance — effectively broadening religious liberty claims.
Since then, the Satanic Temple has been using religious liberty grounds to argue in favor of better access to reproductive care. In addition to going after informed consent laws and waiting periods in Missouri, the organization also issued a statement last year saying it would sue Texas for its new rules requiring aborted fetal tissue to be buried or cremated. It stated that its members were not required to comply with the law since burial rites were part of a religious practice and requiring a specific method goes against its religious freedom rights.
Damien Ba’al, the head of the Satanic Temple’s St. Louis chapter, explains the roadblocks Mary, a member of The Satanic Temple, faced in trying to exercise her right to reproductive health care in Missouri:
… Mary was seeking abortion services, but Missouri law has placed many roadblocks in her path that threaten to deny her right to bodily autonomy.
The roadblocks I speak of are regulations that forced the closure of abortion-providing clinics in Missouri. Planned Parenthood of St. Louis is currently the only abortion provider in the state. Not only does Mary live hundreds of miles away, but there is also a dehumanizing 72 hour waiting period between her initial appointment and the procedure itself. This means that Mary must either find lodging or make the trip twice. She doesn’t have the means to do this.
I wasn’t going to stand by and let Mary’s rights be denied by the state. Myself and the rest of the St. Louis chapter of The Satanic Temple will be helping her circumvent these obstacles so that she is able to make her own decisions about her body and her medical well-being. Also according to our tenets, one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone. So we are also protecting her sincerely held religious beliefs.
The Satanic Temple contends that Missouri’s abortion laws violate the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from endorsing a particular religious belief. In addition, the Satanists argue that Missouri’s abortion regulations promote the religious belief “that human tissue is, from conception, a separate and unique human being whose destruction is morally wrong.”
Also, the Satanists claim Missouri’s “informed consent” counseling and waiting period are not medically necessary to make an informed decision on an abortion.
In a statement, The Satanic Temple’s Lucien Greaves said:
The question of when life begins is absolutely a religious opinion, and the state has no business proselytizing religious beliefs. Women of The Satanic Temple, deciding to terminate a pregnancy, and informed in their decision to do so by their adherence to Satanic tenets, are having their religious freedoms violated when subjected to state-mandated ‘informed consent’ propaganda.
Oral arguments at The Missouri State Court Western Appellate District were held on Monday, September 11; while The United State Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will hear oral arguments on Wednesday, September 20.
Bottom line: By turning the religious freedom argument against conservative Christians, The Satanic Temple defends a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion in Missouri.