The Satanic Temple is suing the state of Texas over a recently passed law restricting abortions in the state to only before a fetal heartbeat is detected—typically around six weeks gestation—on the grounds that the new law violates members’ religious beliefs.
According to Dallas News, Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed the legislation into law earlier this month. The law, hailed by many as a huge step in protecting unborn children but denounced by others as an encroachment upon ferociously defended “reproductive rights,” goes into effect September 1.
The Satanic Temple (TST) announced on its website that the organization filed the suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division:
On behalf of TST member “Ann Doe,” TST is suing the state of Texas for imposing medically unnecessary abortion regulations including a sonogram, a forced decision to reject the ‘opportunity’ of seeing the sonogram results, the forced listening to a narrative of the sonogram results, and a mandatory waiting period between the sonogram and the abortion.
“Ann Doe” reportedly performed the temple’s “abortion ritual,” which the group describes as “a ceremonial affirmation of bodily-autonomy and self-worth that integrates the abortion process.” Ahead of filing the lawsuit, TST sent a letter demanding an exemption to the law on behalf of Doe to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
The letter reads, in part:
“The abortion ritual (1) requires an abortion; and (2) affirms her religious subscription to TST’s Third and Fifth Tenets. But before Ms. Doe can get her abortion–and therefore participate in the abortion ritual–the government has required that she get a sonogram… [ These ] requirements substantially interfere with Ms. Doe’s religious beliefs and practices for two reasons. First, the requirements are a precondition to Ms. Doe’s ability to participate in a religious ceremony. It is a substantial interference per se for the state to place a regulatory hurdle–one that costs money–in front of a religious exercise. The state might as well tax and regulate Mass.”
As we’ve reported in the past, TST has compared their abortion ritual to baptism and communion, arguing that “No Christian would accept a mandatory waiting period before they can partake in Communion. No Christian would tolerate a law that insists state counseling is necessary before someone can be baptized. Our members are justly entitled to religious liberty in order to practice our rituals as well.”
To date, however, TST hasn’t seen much—if any—success in its nationwide attempts to claim unfettered abortion rights on religious grounds.
“So far, all of the Satanic Temple’s lawsuits against pro-life laws have failed,” Life News reported last year. “In June, a federal appeals court rejected their latest attempt at challenging Missouri’s informed consent law. In 2019, the Missouri Supreme Court dismissed another one of the Satanic Temple’s lawsuits. But every time they lose, they try again with a new approach.”
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