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The Satanic Temple could bring abortion rights to the Supreme Court

The church has argued that first-trimester abortions were religious for its members and they should therefore be exempt from state laws denying the medical procedure.

The Satanic Temple could bring abortion rights to the Supreme Court
Image Source: Rallies Across U.S. Protest New Restrictive Abortion Laws. ATLANTA, GA - MAY 21. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

In a press release issued earlier this month, The Satanic Temple announced that it was exempt from state abortion restrictions in Missouri. For several months now, the nontheistic religious group has been fighting against oppressive abortion legislation. The church has argued that "the obstacle course of abortion restrictions" that states impose on the medical procedure should not be applicable to its members as doing so would violate their religious beliefs. If that argument sounds familiar, it is because it is the exact one used by the Catholic group Little Sisters of the Poor. In the case of Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, the United States Supreme Court ruled that they did not have to provide abortion health coverage to its employees due to "religious and moral exemptions." Now, The Satanic Temple plans to go to the Supreme Court under the same precedent, Rolling Stone Magazine reports.



The church stated in its press release, "The Satanic Temple bases its assertions of abortion mandate exemptions on the protections provided by State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts or RFRA, which generally prohibits the government from substantially interfering with a person’s free exercise of religion." It claimed that first-trimester abortions were religious for its members, therefore, its members cannot be denied access to such procedures as per state laws. They thus affirmed, "Religious abortions during the first trimester [for its members] are exempt from state regulations that hinder access to pregnancy termination services and serve no medical purpose."



"Many states have laws that interfere with our members’ ability to practice their religious beliefs. No Christian would accept a mandatory waiting period before they can partake in Communion," explained Jane Essex, a reproductive rights spokeswoman for The Satanic Temple. "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." She continued to assert that the law was "clearly on its side." She stated, "If RFRA states do not want to recognize our rights, they will ultimately have to claim that our abortions are not satanic. Given that many people fanatically insist that all abortions are satanic, the states’ argument will be very unpopular. Not only will those who deny Satanists their religious freedom be denounced by defenders of liberty, but they will also be detested by those who demonize abortion. Hopefully, states will do the right thing and respect our legal rights."



However, the federal appeals court for Missouri ruled in June this year that the Satanists cannot be exempt from "generally applicable and neutral state laws" simply because their religious beliefs disagree with the law. But The Satanic Temple is not backing down. In the coming term, the US Supreme Court is set to hear another case based on religious rights: a Catholic foster care agency is looking for the freedom to discriminate against gay parents, which is contrary to Philadelphia’s current anti-discrimination laws. The church, therefore, intends to turn the Christian right's argumentation on its head and subvert it to protect the individual's right to choose. While concrete plans are still up in the air, there is hope yet. It just rests in the hands of The Satanic Temple.

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