The Satanic Temple has filed suit against Missouri, alleging that the state’s anti-abortion restrictions interfere with the Satanists’ religious liberty. One of TST’s Missouri members, known as “Mary Doe” in court filings, is seeking an abortion, and argued that the 72-hour waiting period required by Missouri law was a violation of her religious liberty. Her request to have the waiting period waived was denied, prompting the lawsuit.
Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves (who will also answer to Doug), announced on Friday in his Orlando Weekly blog that the group filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and State Attorney General Chris Koster. Nixon vetoed the 72-hour waiting period last September, but Missouri Republicans overrode his veto, making it law.
Greaves says that Mary arrived at the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis—Missouri’s only abortion clinic—on Friday morning. She presented them with a letter stating that the waiting period, as well as the state’s mandatory pre-abortion “counseling,” is a violation of her “deeply held religious beliefs,” which are supposedly protected under Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (You can see the “informed consent” materials that Mary was given here, referred to in the Satanists’ court filings as “the Booklet.”)
Mary’s letter states that it is her religious belief “that abortion does not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being,” and, as such, that Planned Parenthood shouldn’t have to deliver “counseling” on the state’s behalf or force her to wait 72 hours. She concludes:
This letter is my statement that I choose to have an abortion today —now — and without further review of the Booklet. I make that choice voluntarily, freely, and without coercion. I am informed to my satisfaction — both as a religious and a scientific matter — that an abortion will not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.
I respectfully request that you provide me with an abortion today.
Planned Parenthood, of course, had no choice but to deny Mary’s request in order to comply with state law. The Satanic Temple’s lawsuit argues that the waiting period requirements are “unduly restrictive,” and besides asking that Mary be granted damages for having to comply with them, requests that they be declared “null and void.”
In his blog, Greaves writes dryly that Religious Freedom Restoration Acts are “commonly popular among Christian conservatives who endorse it as essential to preserving the spiritual innocence of pious bakers who might otherwise be forced to bake cakes for Godless homosexuals.” But—sweet irony alert—it has to protect fans of Satan too. Greaves adds:
We are dedicated to seeing this case through, and we will fight — with every resource available to us — for bodily autonomy and personal sovereignty. No matter the outcome, however, we feel that The Satanic Temple has already done much to reframe the ongoing debate regarding Religious Liberty, its uses and limits. Suddenly gone are the days in which Religious Privilege seemed to exist to the benefit of a single creed. All at once, the all-too-numerous flagrant theocrats holding public office across the nation are made to sullenly realize that Religious Liberty isn’t theirs alone. Hail Satan.
Gotta say, the Satanic Temple is really making me an even bigger fan of the Dark Lord. The full TRO request is below.
Image via JeromeG111/Flickr
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