The Satanic Temple Appeals Abortion Case Dismissal to Eighth Circuit

The Satanic Temple Appeals Abortion Case Dismissal to Eighth Circuit April 9, 2019

Back in February the Judge Henry Edward Autrey dismissed The Satanic Temple’s (TST) case against Missouri informed consent abortion laws. In a newsletter announcement TST has now announced they are appealing Autrey’s decision and will continue to pursue a verdict.

Judy Doe’s Reproductive Rights Case for Abortion On-Demand

The “Judy Doe” case was filed in March of 2018 in federal court while TST’s other “Mary Doe” case was waiting on a decision from the Missouri Supreme Court. This case was dismissed just one week after the State court case was ruled in favor of Missouri in the Mary Doe case after the State ‘clarified’ (pronounced: changed) their guidance on informed consent by saying the law’s ultrasound requirement was optional.

Writing at the time of the dismissal Lucien Greaves, in a statement to Patheos’ Friendly Atheist said:

Missouri is claiming that their mandated “Informed Consent” booklet which states as fact that life begins at conception and that abortion will terminate a unique human life — though contestable as a scientific claim — is merely a belief that overlaps with certain religious beliefs, not necessarily a religious proposition itself. Technically, a non-Christian could believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He shall resurrect at the End of Times, but it is not the place of the government to proselytize such beliefs even if they are to claim an attachment to those beliefs based solely on some inexplicable non-religious preference.

The state has affirmed once more, however, that they do not necessarily expect a woman to read their propaganda or believe it, only that they are being given the opportunity to do so over the course of an imposed three-day waiting period. I believe our appeal will have to challenge the state’s interest in imposing such a wait over a woman’s right to hold religious beliefs, prior to her decision to terminate her pregnancy, that conflict with the state’s proposition, allowing her an exemption from the mandated materials and their attached waiting period. The waiting period serves no function for our plaintiff, and only serves the state’s hope that she will reconsider her position, will feel sufficient guilt and/or shame so as to abandon her beliefs, or otherwise find herself inconvenienced beyond her means to follow through with her decision.

New Appeal “Presents a Challenge for Judges”

According to TST’s release, the central issue of the case is the idea that it isn’t within the purview of government to dictate a religious opinion like “life begins at conception”, which is stated as a belief of the state of Missouri within the informed consent materials. Clearly this opinion is not shared by Judy Doe, other members of TST, and many other religious and non-religious people around the country. TST is basically asking the court to address whether such a religious opinion can be imposed by law.

Eighth Circuit has previously ruled that Missouri’s declaration that life begins at conception was “simply an impermissible state adoption of a theory of when life begins to justify its abortion regulations.” So it appears that in order to support Autrey’s dismissal it would need overturn itself.

Greaves’ statement in the new release says Autrey overstepped by dismissing the case:

“The law is very clearly on our side.” said Greaves. “As we have already witnessed, however, many of the judges in Missouri have been comfortable with disregarding the law and they avoided ruling on the issues we raised. Our appeal presents a challenge for judges who want to defy the law to promote an agenda because the Eighth Circuit will have to overrule itself to deny our claims. It is laughable for theocrats to obviously impose their religious viewpoint into law only to claim that their actions are not discriminatory by virtue of the fact that everybody is equally burdened by the restrictions they’ve created. We are confident that reason will prevail upon appeal.”

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About Jack Matirko
Jack Matirko is an activist, blogger, and podcaster focussing on issues of church and state separation. He runs Patheos' Satanic Blog For Infernal Use Only (patheos.com/blogs/infernal), co-hosts the Naked Diner Podcast (patreon.com/nakeddiner), and is a member of The Satanic Temple-Arizona Chapter. His opinions are his own. To contribute to his work please consider becoming a patron of his podcast. You can read more about the author here.

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  • Polytropos

    … or otherwise find herself inconvenienced beyond her means to follow through with her decision.

    In my opinion this is what it’s really all about. The purpose of the waiting period is to create an extra logistical difficulty for people seeking abortions, in the hope that this will prevent people from accessing abortions.

  • Jim Jones

    Well, duh!

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    i assume that the the law includes making the initial consultation face to face, otherwise skype could side step the whole thing, skype the doctor for the consult, get mailed back a link to the documents that you never have to open (look saves trees too) and then make the single trip for the procedure. part of me thinks this is such an obvious work around that it must be covered, but an equally big part has seen way to many theocrats write laws that badly.

  • I’ve asked around about that but I haven’t really gotten a clear answer. I agree, it seems to me that since the ultrasound is optional they should just be able to email a pdf as a formality when the appointment is made. Provided it’s made 3 days in advance that /could/ at least sidestep the waiting period issue. I didn’t see anything in the statute that says the materials need to be a physical copy so it might be an option for clinics. I’m sure the lawyers are on it.

  • Polytropos

    Often theocrats really are that clueless. Maybe it’s an intentional loophole, but I’d be prepared to bet they just didn’t think it through.

  • WallofSleep

    Most of the crotchety old assholes passing these stupid laws don’t really understand the intertubes.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    it would be far better to just get the whole law revoked then attempt a work around that will only work until the bigots shut it anyway.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    when your main source of wisdom has not been updated in 2000 years it’s not a big surprise that things like the telephone catch them on the hop