Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Satanic Temple Adds Federal Lawsuit to Campaign Against Missouri Abortion Restrictions

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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The Satanic Temple is a religion, but only sort of.

On one hand, its proponents don't believe in God or any supernatural force in the universe — but they do profess sincerely held beliefs, like trust in modern medical science and bodily autonomy. In a lawsuit filed in federal court yesterday, the Satanic Temple advanced its argument that Missouri's abortion restrictions trample on those beliefs and violate its members' Constitutional rights.

When we last checked in with those godless agitators, the Satanic Temple was spearheading a campaign to help "Mary" (not her real name), a 22-year-old mechanic and Satanic Temple member who has the misfortune of living hundreds of miles away from the state's only abortion facility, the Planned Parenthood in the Central West End. Mary's case highlighted the burden Missouri's recent abortion restrictions places on women, which include a 72-hour waiting period and a mandate to read medically inaccurate "informed consent" documents that are designed to scare women out of going through with the procedure.

See also: Satanists Crowd-Fund Campaign to Get Missouri Woman an Abortion

In May, Mary presented Planned Parenthood with a "waiver of exemption" drafted by the Satanic Temple, claiming that the waiting period and informed consent mandate would violate her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Planned Parenthood rejected the waiver, prompting the Satanic Temple to launch a lawsuit demanding the state allow Satanists like Mary — or, for that matter, any woman sharing such beliefs — to bypass the "dehumanizing" waiting period and baseless informed consent documents.

The federal lawsuit adds another wrinkle to the Satanic Temple's objections: The filing argues that Missouri's abortion laws violate the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from endorsing a particular religious belief.

"We want to unseat the majority religion from its position of privilege," Damien Ba'al, head of the Satanic Temple's St. Louis chapter, told Daily RFT in May. "We don't like the idea of there being a majority religion getting pretty much whatever they want and dictating their beliefs. We want religious freedom to apply to everyone, not just one variant."

So far, the Satanic Temple's national office has raised $25,000 through GoFundMe to bankroll its lawsuits.

On Sunday, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a motion to dismiss the Satanic Temple's earlier lawsuit, essentially arguing that Mary's expression of disagreement with the state's laws isn't the same as having her sincerely held religious beliefs violated.

Clearly, these are weighty legal matters, and it remains to be seen if the Satanic Temple can successfully argue the merits of these two lawsuits.

For more on the Satanic Temple's fight against Missouri's abortion restrictions, including our interview with "Mary," check out our previous coverage.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com


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