On Thursday, the Satanic Temple was dealt a blow when a federal judge threw out the group’s Missouri abortion lawsuit. The case was filed roughly a year ago, and in it, the Satanic Temple challenged Missouri’s abortion waiting period requirement. According to the Satanic Temple, the mandatory 72-hour abortion waiting period violated the religious freedom of a member of the Satanic Temple.
As Broadly reports, the judge dismissed the Satanic Temple’s lawsuit because the woman named in the case was “not now pregnant.”
Vice: Judge refuses to deliberate on TST abortion suit, dismisses case in ruling that will almost certainly be... https://t.co/R4pFg1xMDt— The Satanic Temple (@satanicpsalms) August 5, 2016
When US District Judge Henry Edward Autrey ruled on the case, he didn’t consider the religious freedom aspects of the filing at all and washed his hands of the matter entirely because the plaintiff could not possibly still be pregnant. After all, one way or another, a year after the filing, her pregnancy would have ended. According to the judge, the plaintiff and member of the Satanic Temple, “Mary Doe,” was and is lacking in “sufficiently concrete injuries.”
“…there is no guaranty [sic] that she will become pregnant in the future, and that if she does, she will seek an abortion, thus, Plaintiffs’ injuries are not sufficiently concrete for the Court to order the requested relief.”
Missouri has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, and the state has only one remaining abortion provider.
In order for a woman in Missouri to obtain an abortion, she is legally required to read an informed consent brochure, which is distributed by Planned Parenthood. Then, the pregnant woman is required by law to wait an additional three days (72 hours) before she can actually have the procedure performed. According to the Satanic Temple, the restrictive requirements not only put an undue burden on women, but they also violate the religious beliefs of members of the Satanic Temple.
Because the state is down to a single abortion provider, some women have to make a time-consuming, expensive and lengthy round-trip twice in order to undergo an abortion. They have to shoulder the financial burden of the travel, as well as the cost of the procedure and the time lost from their everyday lives over the course of the 72-hour waiting period.
@satanicpsalms So the judge is basically saying I can't sue someone for raping me because I'm no longer being raped?— Cary Whitman (@Cary_wh) August 5, 2016
According to the lawsuit, Mary Doe unequivocally refused to read the booklet. According to Doe and the lawsuit, being forced to do so violates her religious beliefs as a member of the Satanic Temple. Included in the state-sanctioned material is a portion that tells women dealing with unwanted pregnancies that “life begins at conception.”
Despite refusing to read the legally-required informed consent pamphlet, Mary Doe was still required to remain pregnant for an additional 72 hours following her abortion request, per Missouri law. Despite the fact that her religious beliefs, in accordance with the tenets of the Satanic Temple, allow her to make her own personal healthcare decisions.
According to the Satanic Temple, it was this forced gestation that violated the religious rights of one of its members, who was also the plaintiff in the Missouri abortion case.
According to the tenets of the Satanic Temple, a person’s body is subject to one’s own will alone. In addition, the Satanic Temple believes that the beliefs of human beings are to be based on agreed-upon scientific knowledge and understanding.
The Satanic Temple has argued that forcing its members to remain pregnant despite their desire for an immediate abortion and forcing its members to read non-scientifically vetted educational material violates the first amendment rights of those belonging to the Satanic Temple.
The foundation of the Satanic Temple’s lawsuit against Missouri’s dangerous and restrictive abortion law was a demand that the state provide a religious exemption for members of the Satanic Temple and others who feel that their religious beliefs are violated by the Missouri law.
According to Lucien Greaves, a founding member and spokesman for the Satanic Temple, the decision of the federal judge will be appealed. Particularly, considering that the judge didn’t comment on key aspects of the lawsuit.
“I don’t think it will stay dismissed for long. The judge didn’t even address the question being posed in this case of whether or not [Doe’s] First Amendment right had been violated.”
The federal judge’s ruling on the Satanic Temple’s abortion case comes just over a month following a sweeping U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding restrictive abortion laws in Texas. The Texas law was based on forcing abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges rather than waiting periods, but the ruling was nonetheless seen as a profound victory for abortion rights advocates. If it had been allowed to go into effect, it would have left Texas with only a handful of abortion providers, although Texas would still have had more than Missouri where the Satanic Temple case was filed.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had plenty to say about the situation, reports CNN.
“When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety.”
The U.S. is in the midst of a highly contentious presidential race, and the outcome could determine more that who lives in the White House for the next four years. The incoming POTUS will be responsible for filling at least one and as many as three vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. With the Satanic Temple planning on appealing the recent decision in its abortion case, it is highly plausible that the outcome of the case could reverberate across the nation.
[Image via J. Bicking/Shutterstock]