Today, Satanists will be arguing in front of the Missouri Supreme Court for their religious right to an abortion, in spite of the state’s medically unnecessary 72-hour waiting period.
The controversy began in 2015 when “Mary Doe” sued the state. She needed an abortion, but the nearest clinic was hundreds of miles away. On top of that, because she had to wait three days between the initial consultation and the procedure, she had to make multiple trips to the facility or pay for lodging. That cost money she didn’t have.
It got a lot more complicated when she filed the lawsuit. Because The Satanic Temple, to which Mary belonged, says that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone,” she claimed that the law requiring a 72-hour waiting period violated her religious beliefs.
She was taking a page out of the conservative Christian playbook in order to make abortions more accessible.
That lawsuit was soon dismissed, so she filed a federal lawsuit… which was also tossed out in 2016 because the judge said she wasn’t pregnant anymore, so the case was moot. (By that logic, though, could any woman ever sue over this problem?)
Jex Blackmore, a spokeswoman for the Satanic Temple, said the woman’s religious rights were ignored.
“The State has essentially established a religious indoctrination program intended to push a single ideological viewpoint,” Blackmore said in a statement. “The law is intended to punish women who disagree with this opinion.”
I asked Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves for his thoughts about the oral arguments, and it was clear he had thought out the best and worst case scenarios.
If we lose, there are certain to be many who take it as evidence that our arguments were erroneous. They are not. Whatever the ruling, I am fully convinced that our argument has been legitimate, justified, and undoubtedly worth the effort of our pursuit (cost prohibitive though the legal fees have been). Nonetheless, if we lose, we’re certain to be denigrated.
If we win, however, we’ll have completely reshaped the Religious Freedom debate in the United States, offering hope for a religious haven against encroaching theocracy. The importance of this outcome can not be overstated.
Can you imagine the reaction if Satanists successfully get Missouri’s law changed so that women can access abortions without going through the Religious Right’s unnecessary hurdles?
Remember: It’s not the Court’s job to assess how serious Mary’s Satanism is. She says these are her beliefs, so that’s that. The only question is whether her religious freedom argument has merit in the eyes of the law. If Christians are able to get away with anti-gay discrimination because of their faith, it’s only logical that a Satanist should be able to defend women’s rights because of hers.
You can listen to a livestream of the court’s audio at 9:30a (CT) today.
(Image via Facebook)