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Lawsuit From Satanic Temple Could Defeat Restrictive Abortion Laws

The Satanic Temple believes that an “abortion of a nonviable fetus does not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

By Eric Shorey

The Satanic Temple, a largely atheist/absurdist organization increasingly interested in anti-evangelical activism, has taken out a law suit against the state of Missouri on behalf of a woman identified as Mary Doe. The suit could work towards defeating restrictive anti-choice legislations.

According to the law suit, Mary Doe was made to adhere to a series of policies meant to discourage her from receiving an abortion, including a 72 hour wait period. Doe was also forced to listen to the fetal heartbeat, look at ultrasounds of the fetus, and read a series of staunchly anti-choice propaganda brochures that asserted that life begins at conception. The suit argues that these policies directly impinged upon her adherence to the Satanic faith, which includes the belief 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 suit continues to argue that the state's anti-choice policy “does not advance a compelling governmental interest or is unduly restrictive of Doe’s exercise of religion," and is therefore unconstitutional.

Defense lawyers have attempted to argue that Doe, specifically, is not protected under religious rights laws.

More recently, Missouri’s Solicitor General D. John Sauer has clarified that “it’s the position of the State that an ultrasound does not have to be conducted unless a person says they want the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.”

The suit was originally filed in 2015. The State Supreme Court has not yet reached a decision. The outcome of the case would raise considerable questions about the extent to which abortion can be discouraged as a medical practice.

The Satanic Temple has recently been involved in a series of high-profile symbollic demonstrations and legal actions to protest the spread of evangelical beliefs that impinge upon the rights of both non-Christians and the non-religious. One protest involved the creation of a statue of Baphomet, an ancient demonic deity, to be placed next to a statue of the Ten Commandments on display at the Oklahoma State Capital. The court ultimately demanded the removal of the Ten Commandment statues.

“The entire point of our effort was to offer a monument that would complement and contrast the Ten Commandments, reaffirming that we live in a nation that respects plurality, a nation that refuses to allow a single viewpoint to co-opt the power and authority of government institutions,” Satanic Temple figurehead Lucien Greaves told the Washington Post.

[Photo of Lucien Greaves: Getty Images]

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