This Tuesday, The Satanic Temple will be arguing their case in front of the Missouri Supreme Court after convincing an appeals court that the state’s mandatory 72-hour waiting period before having an abortion violates their religious freedom.
The Temple is taking up the case of a member they refer to as “Mary Doe,” who claims the law goes against her religious beliefs. The woman contends that back in May of 2015, she was forced to view an ultrasound of her fetus and required to read a booklet that stated life “begins at conception.”
All of this was forced upon her despite the fact that she “adheres to principles of the Satanic temple and has sincerely held religious beliefs different from the information in the informed consent booklet,” according to her case summary.
“Specifically, her letter advised she has deeply held religious beliefs that a nonviable fetus is not a separate human being but is part of her body and that abortion of a nonviable fetus does not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being,” the case summary stated according to NBC News.
The Satanic Temple’s Jex Blackmore says Mary Doe’s religious freedom is being trampled upon.
“The State has essentially established a religious indoctrination program intended to push a single ideological viewpoint,” Blackmore said in a statement. “The law is intended to punish women who disagree with this opinion.”
“Missouri’s state-mandated informed consent booklets explicitly say that life begins at conception, which is a nonmedical religious viewpoint that many people disagree with,” his statement continued. “Forcing women to read this information and then wait 72-hours to consider the State’s opinion is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.”
Although the state disagreed with the Temple’s assessment, a Missouri appeals court found merit in the Temple’s argument and agreed to let the case go the Missouri Supreme Court and even commented on the urgency of the case’s constitutional implications.
“Neither the Missouri Supreme Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court has considered whether a Booklet of this nature, an Ultrasound, an Audible Heartbeat Offer, and a seventy-two-hour Waiting Period violate the Religion Clause rights of pregnant women,” Missouri Supreme Court Judge Thomas Newton wrote. “Because we believe that this case raises real and substantial constitutional claims, it is within the Missouri Supreme Court’s exclusive jurisdiction.”
The Satanic Temple’s history of successfully trolling Christians is unprecedented. They’ve put the evangelical-centric “religious freedom” arguments to the test with their “After School Satan” school clubs, they got Arizona Christian lawmakers to ban public prayer, and even had a Satanic-themed coloring book made available for display at an elementary school. The Temple’s strategizing is based around using religious conservatives’ need for religious superiority in the public sphere against them. Contrary to what some believe, most Temple members aren’t people who believe in a literal Satan. “The Temple understands the Satanic figure as a symbol of man’s inherent nature, representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry and personal freedom rather than a supernatural deity of being,” it said in a statement according to NBC.
Speaking to the Friendly Atheist, Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves talked about what he expects as the hearing gets underway.
If we lose, there are certain to be many who take it as evidence that our arguments were erroneous. They are not. Whatever the ruling, I am fully convinced that our argument has been legitimate, justified, and undoubtedly worth the effort of our pursuit (cost prohibitive though the legal fees have been). Nonetheless, if we lose, we’re certain to be denigrated.
If we win, however, we’ll have completely reshaped the Religious Freedom debate in the United States, offering hope for a religious haven against encroaching theocracy. The importance of this outcome can not be overstated.
Imagine if Satanists were the ones to get a Missouri anti-abortion law overturned.
Update, 1/25/18: A local CBS affiliate is reporting that the Temple has prevailed in its showdown with the state of Missouri over its abortion restrictions.
According to 9News, Missouri’s Solicitor General D. John Sauer declared ultrasounds are not required to obtain an abortion in the state.
Read it here.
[This post has been updated] Featured image via screen grab/YouTube