Court of Appeals Rules Against Satanic Temple Member Who Said Abortion Law ‘Violates Her Satanic Beliefs’

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against a Satanic Temple member who challenged Missouri regulations that require abortion-minded mothers to obtain an informational booklet and an ultrasound before proceeding with the murder of their unborn child 72 hours later. The woman had asserted that the informed consent and waiting period laws violated her beliefs as her “body is inviolable and subject to her will alone.”

The woman, who only is identified as Judy Doe, filed suit in 2018, asserting that the “tissue” was a “part of her body” and “[s]he alone” has the right to decide what to do about her pregnancy, regardless of the “the current or future condition” of the growing child within her. She argued that it is a “scientific fact that an umbilical cord makes human tissue part of a woman’s body.”

“The state has no business telling what people to believe,” her attorney, W. James Mac Naughton, stated in an interview, according to Courthouse News. “The state has no business telling us that life begins at conception. We can decide that for ourselves.”

The pamphlet provided to abortion-minded mothers states that “[t]he life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.” It also outlines “the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments,” both in words and in pictures, such as the ability to blink, grasp, suck one’s thumb and take naps.

The Missouri Family Policy Council is stated to be behind the statute, with the Missiouri Department of Health and Senior Services creating the booklet.

But the woman claimed that the brochure violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution in that it “foster[s] an excessive
entanglement between the State of Missouri and adherents to the religious belief that human tissue is a separate and unique human being from conception whose destruction is morally wrong.”

“Plaintiff has been and will be irreparably injured by that violation because the [State’s views] are forced upon her with the intent and purpose to cause her guilt for believing The Satanic Tenets and not believing the Missouri Tenets.”

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U.S. Judge Henry Autrey, nominated to the bench by then-President George W. Bush, dismissed the lawsuit last year, and Doe appealed.

The Eighth Circuit upheld the dismissal on Tuesday, finding that “taking sides on a divisive issue, even when it breaks down ‘along religious lines,’ does not establish religion.” It also ruled that the woman’s religious rights were not violated as she makes “no argument … that the informed-consent law is anything other than ‘neutral’ and ‘generally applicable.'”

The court also pointed out in a footnote: “According to Doe, the Satanic Temple has both ‘politically aware Satanists’ and ‘secularists and advocates for individual liberty’ among its members. Arguably, her own description raises the possibility that her beliefs about abortion may be political, not religious.”

The decision was written by Judge David Stras, a Trump nominee, and was joined by L. Steven Grasz, also nominated by Trump and Duane Benton, a Bush nominee.

Read the ruling in full here. 

As previously reported, the Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple announced in 2014 its plan to use the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision to “bolster” an initiative seeking exemptions from pro-life laws that its members claim to violate their religious beliefs.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June of that year that the federal government cannot force closely-held companies to obey regulations which violate the owners’ religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby has been providing birth control coverage to employees for years, but took issue with four contraceptives that it considered to be abortifacients.

As a result, The Satanic Temple launched its Religious Reproductive Rights campaign, which similarly included a lawsuit against the state of Missouri, in that instance by a woman who identified as “Mary Doe.” She lost the case on both the state and federal levels.

Read Christian News Network’s reports on the case here, here and here.

As previously reported, while the Satanic Temple contends that it is a religious group, it also notes on its website that it is “non-theistic” and does not believe in Satan or the supernatural at all, but only views the devil as a metaphor.

It states that it considers Satan “as a symbol of mankind’s inherent nature — representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry, and personal freedom, as opposed to a supernatural deity or being.”

Some, therefore, consider the group as essentially an atheist effort to make a point about religion.

In the documentary “Hell’s Bells: The Power and Spirit of Popular Music,” Christian filmmaker Eric Holmberg discussed the practice of Satanism and its central theme of “Do what thou wilt.” He asserted that many people follow the principles of Satanism without realizing it.

“Call yourself a humanist, a white witch, a liberal Christian if you must, but ultimately, as [Anton] LaVey was fond of saying, you’re just a Satanist in evening clothes dressed up to hide your true nature,” Holmberg explained. “Contrary to popular opinion, the essence of being Satanic is simply being interested in what you or other people believe about something, rather than what God knows and has commanded.”

1 John 3:8 reads, “He that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

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