Satanic Temple Says Abortion Laws Violate Its Religious Rights by Promoting Christian Beliefs

Missouri’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a case brought by the activist group the Satanic Temple to challenge requirements for women seeking abortions.

The Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple filed a lawsuit against the state of Missouri on religious grounds, arguing that a statute for women seeking to terminate their pregnancies promotes the Christian viewpoint that life begins with conception.

Women seeking abortions in Missouri must be offered an ultrasound to hear the fetal heartbeat, receive informed consent booklets that claim human life begins at conception, and wait 72 hours in order to receive an abortion, according to the statute. The Satanic Temple argues that these rules infringe on the religious freedom of people who do not hold this Christian view of conception.

“The Satanic Temple's position is that the state-mandated informed consent materials, which proclaim ‘life begins at conception’ and that ‘abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being,’ are debatable points of religious opinion—opinions that we do not agree with,” Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple, told Newsweek.

“We filed the lawsuit in defense of a member of the Satanic Temple who sought an abortion and was told she needed to wait three days for the procedure, during which time she was expected to consider the state's opinion upon fetal personhood. The state's opinion upon the matter is irrelevant to us, and the imposition of their religious opinion, especially as a means to delay a decision that was informed by religious principles, is a clear violation of our free exercise,” Greaves continued.

679525694 Lucien Greaves, spokesman for The Satanic Temple, stands with a statue of Baphomet at the group's meeting house in Salem, MA. Getty Images

The Satanic Temple filed both state and federal lawsuits in 2015 against the state of Missouri on behalf of a woman named Mary Doe, who is allegedly a member of the temple.

During the hearing, lawyer James MacNaughton argued that Missouri’s law interferes with Doe's rights under Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act because her behavior was interfered with for reasons that were not medical.

“They want to change her mind, they want to change her heart, they want to change the way she sees herself in the cosmos. It is a bedrock principle of our culture, of our country, that we choose for ourselves what we believe,” MacNaughton said Tuesday.

Defense argued that reading the required booklet does not violate Doe’s religious rights.