Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that an Indiana law (signed by then-Governor Mike Pence) requiring abortion clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains could stay in place. It’s nothing more than a medically unnecessary obstacle that creates the illusion that “fetal remains” are equivalent to a person.
Now The Satanic Temple has issued a statement saying its members don’t have to follow that law.
The Satanic Temple declares its members exempt from Indiana law regarding fetal remains pic.twitter.com/nPDvl1W6xv
— The Satanic Temple (@satanic_temple_) May 29, 2019
… One of The Satanic Temple’s fundamental tenets is the inviolability of one’s body. Members of The Satanic Temple believe that non-viable fetal tissue is part of the woman who carries it, and as such, state impositions of ceremonial requirements dictating its disposal, barring any plausible medical or sanitary concerns, is a violation of TST’s Free Exercise allowing Satanists to contextualize the termination of a pregnancy on their own terms, with deference to their own religion beliefs. As such, TST affirms that this rule violates their religious beliefs and asserts that their members may refuse to adhere.
Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves added that the Indiana law “clearly places an undue burden on the religious practices of The Satanic Temple by interfering with burial rites… It would be profoundly hypocritical for any Church that advocates for religious rights not to support our claim.”
“To be clear, members of The Satanic Temple will not be made to pay for these punitive, superfluous, and insulting burials. We claim exemption on religious liberty grounds, and we will almost certainly prevail in the courts if we are forced to fight. It’s time that petty sanctimonious panderers like Vice President Mike Pence… come to realize that religious liberty means freedom from unreasonable government imposition upon religious opinion and practice — not his own ‘freedom’ to impose a particular religiously-dictated practice upon the electorate whom he serves,” said Greaves.
It’s nice to see them putting that new IRS designation to good use. Whether anyone will use the “I’m a Satanist” defense to avoid the law — and whether the government will punish that person — remains to be seen. But given how much leeway the courts give to those who cite their faith as a defense, it would be a fascinating battle to watch.
***Update***: The Temple has released this document that members can give to their physicians to get out of the burial law.