After state trial courts dismissed a case brought against the state of Missouri by a group of Satanists suing the state for its strict abortion laws in 2015, the state Supreme Court recently agreed to take the case, reported U.S. News.
The members of the Satanic Temple believe that the strict abortion laws, including requiring women to wait 72 hours before an abortion, requiring doctors to give women an ultrasound of the fetus before she is allowed to terminate the pregnancy, and forcing doctors to offer literature that says “life begins at conception,” are religiously discriminating according to their doctrines.
Ironically, the group of Satanists don’t actually believe in Satan but see the biblical Satan as a metaphor and are dedicated to progressive politics. The Satanic Temple’s mission statement calls on its members to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.”
The lawsuit brought before the state’s Supreme Court outlines the case of a woman, known as Mary Doe, who made an appointment for an abortion at a clinic in St. Louis in 2015. When she attempted to submit a letter to waive the Informed Consent Law requirements according to her Satanic beliefs, the clinic refused to give her an abortion.
“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,” said @satanic_temple_ co-founder and spokesman @LucienGreaves.https://t.co/JbF7U6NVoS— Secular Students (@SecularStudents) April 13, 2019
She decided to sue the state during the 72-hour waiting period before being able to complete the procedure, claiming that the Informed Consent Law violated her rights under Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
According to Mary Ziegler, a Florida State University law professor, the group aims to show that people on both sides of the political spectrum can use religious freedom to challenge laws they don’t like.
Ziegler also believes that the group has a huge potential to win the suit.
“Oh, yeah, I can see it working in other states. One hundred percent – especially if they [the Satanists] win. There will be other lawsuits like this in states where the higher courts tilt to the left, and may want to prove a point about the use of religion to form public policy.”
While the Supreme Court won’t make their verdict for another few weeks, the group says that they have already achieved a huge victory during oral arguments when the state acknowledged that the ultrasounds supposedly required by law were voluntary and not mandatory.
If the Satanic Temple wins the lawsuit, other abortion rights and progressive organizations could potentially use the same religious-freedom argument to challenge laws in other states.