At the heart of the case is the claim that abortion is part of a religious ritual for the Satanic Temple, a non-thiestic religious group that should not be confused with the Church of Satan and is often known for political challenges to public religious imagery, such as seeking to have a statue of Bamophet placed on the grounds of state capitols with 10 Commandment monuments.
The group first announced the existence of the abortion ritual in August 2020, saying in a news release that, “The Satanic abortion ritual involves the recitation of our Third and Fifth Tenets, which celebrate bodily autonomy and the adherence to best scientific practices, along with a personal affirmation that is ceremoniously intertwined with the abortion. The ritual is designed to elicit confidence, comfort, and fortitude as even the strongest of individuals can feel pressure from social expectations, pseudoscience, and arbitrary attempts to instill guilt and shame for their decision despite their convictions of religious liberty.”
“Ann Doe,” who took on a different alias for fear of public backlash, argued that her “religious objections will be overrun and her participation in the Satanic Abortion Ritual will be substantially interfered with,” because of Informed Consent legal procedure in Texas.
The Satanic Temple members say they want to practice their satanic rituals without outsiders’ interference. They consider the State’s abortion measures a breach of their constitutional right.
The Washington Examiner reports:
“From the perspective of a Satanist, abortion regulations place the state in the role of tyrant-king which claims divine authority to in an effort [sic] to make the Satanist feel guilt, doubt, and shame on an issue of religious significance,” the plaintiff’s complaint stated.
“By officiating the Satanic abortion ritual, Ms. Doe … will be uttering religiously charged speech and will be engaging in religious conduct,” it continued.
The group complained that the state not only requires women to undergo a sonogram, but they also have to wait for 2 to 24 hours and go through the state mandated-paper work before an abortion.
In its response, the State of Texas claims that the Temple did not establish that the requirements were a violation of the precedent set in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Examiner continues:
“The Satanic abortion ritual occurs immediately prior to a surgical or medical abortion,” Texas’s motion stated. “But the challenged statutes set out requirements that must be satisfied 2 to 24 hours before the abortion — in other words, by the time Doe was preparing to carry out the Satanic abortion ritual, the requirements … would have already been met and would not, therefore, serve as a barrier to her free speech and free exercise during the ritual.”
The Satanic Temple’s complaint was filed before Texas expanded its abortion regulations to include a ban on abortions after the detection of a heartbeat. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the “heartbeat bill” on May 19.
The Satanic Temple expects its members to perform the satanic ritual without remorse or any moral inhibitions, they claim the state violated the group’s doctrine by subjecting pregnant women to go through the state’s mandated paperwork. A written document that contains information about “medical risks, adoption alternatives, and developmental stages of the fetus,”[aclutx.org] which they believe can trigger a sense of guilt and shame, prompting women to think twice before terminating a pregnancy.
The plaintiff’s complaint stated, “From the perspective of a Satanist, abortion regulations place the state in the role of tyrant-king which claims divine authority in an effort [sic] to make the Satanist feel guilt, doubt, and shame on an issue of religious significance.”
The Satanic Temple filed the case before Republican Gov Greg Abbott signed the “heartbeat bill” that gives the State of Texas authority to penalize anyone who is directly or indirectly responsible for the termination of the fetus around six weeks into the pregnancy.
The measure is called a heartbeat bill because six weeks gestation is approximately when medical practitioners can detect fetal cardiac activity in the womb.
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