By Michal Ortner
The Satanic Temple (TST) has filed a lawsuit against the state of Missouri. The organization seeks to obtain a “religious exemption” from the law which requires 72 hours to pass before a woman can receive an abortion.
The group, located in New York, says that it is following the lead of Hobby Lobby, which gained an exemption after government laws infringed on their religious liberties. TST claims that their situation is the same.
Last June, the court ruled that the government cannot, in fact, force companies to follow through with laws that violate the religious beliefs of the company owners. Though Hobby Lobby had been providing birth control options to their employees for years, they were not obliged to offer the four types of contraceptives that they believed to be abortifacients.
TST claims that being counseled or given explicit information concerning an abortion, prior to the procedure, would violate their religious rights. Their claim states that “the Satanic Temple believes that the body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.”
The organization also drafted a form for women to give to abortion clinics that explains their exemption from abortion laws.
“As an adherent to the principles of the Satanic Temple, my sincerely held religious beliefs are: My body is inviolable and subject to my will alone. … My inviolable body includes any fetal or embryonic tissue I carry so long as that tissue is unable to survive outside my body as an independent human being,” a portion of the letter states.
“I, and I alone, decide whether my inviolable body remains pregnant and I may, in good conscience, disregard the current or future condition of any fetal or embryonic tissue I carry in making that decision,” it goes on to say.
Currently, 35 states, including Missouri, have laws that require women to be counseled prior to receiving an abortion.
“We have theocrats pushing an agenda through legislation, and it’s time we show that other people have different values and are just as deserving as protections,” TST leader Doug Mesner, who also goes by the name Lucien Greaves, said in a statement to the Daily Beast. “We’re not making Christians get abortions if they feel it’s wrong. They put a burden on us.”
“Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state mandated ‘informational’ material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them,” Greaves said last summer.
Earlier in May, The Satanic Temple of St. Louis raised $800 in one day to help a pregnant woman from southwestern Missouri travel to get an abortion, since the drive to the St. Louis clinic was four hours away and she did not have money to continue to travel back and forth to consult with a provider.