Satanic Temple Sues States for Infringing on 'Religious Abortion Ritual'

The Satanic Temple is suing Idaho and Indiana over their near-total abortion bans, arguing that the laws violate religious freedoms.

The Satanic Temple, sometimes confused with the Church of Satan, does not worship the Biblical Satan. Instead, the religious association venerates "the allegorical Satan described in the epic poem Paradise Lost—the defender of personal sovereignty against the dictates of religious authority," according to two federal lawsuits filed in Indiana on September 22 and Idaho on September 30.

In both lawsuits, attorney James Mac Naughton represents female members of the temple who are "involuntarily pregnant."

"The view of The Satanic Temple is that a fetus is a part of a woman's body," Mac Naughton told Newsweek. "As such, she has absolute dominion and control over it and can dispose of it or keep it as she sees fit."

Women Protest Abortion Ban in Idaho
Here, two women protest in support of abortion rights on August 25, 2022 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, as the state's trigger law went into effect. The Satanic Temple is suing Idaho and Indiana over their abortion bans. Natalie Behring / Contributor/Getty Images North America

Restrictive laws also prevent members of The Satanic Temple from holding the "Satanic Abortion Ritual," which is fundamental to their religious beliefs, the lawsuits argued.

This ritual, which includes the abortion itself, is designed to cast off the guilt and shame that may be imposed on a woman choosing an abortion, according to the temple. During the ritual, the patient meditates and recites Tenet III and Tenet V of The Satanic Temple Tenets.

Tenet III says, "One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone." Tenet V says, "Beliefs should conform to one's best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one's beliefs."

The temple also used religious freedom arguments in a similar lawsuit challenging the Texas abortion ban in January.

Indiana became the first state to pass new legislation for an abortion ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, criminalizing abortions except when they protect the life of the mother, when the fetus has a lethal abnormality or when the pregnancy results from rape or incest. Although the ban took effect on September 15, it is currently blocked by a Monroe County special judge after a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Indiana and abortion providers.

Idaho outlawed nearly all abortions through a trigger law, with exceptions for rape or incest and saving the mother's life. The state has also enacted a law that allows family members to file lawsuits against doctors who perform abortions.

The Satanic Temple intends to escalate its Idaho and Indiana lawsuits to the Supreme Court, said its attorney.

"This isn't the Angels versus the Satanists, good versus evil, this is what works for everybody," Mac Naughton said. "And what works for everybody is that you've got to respect everybody's point of view. When you start taking your religious principles and forcing other people to live by them, that's not the America I want to live in."