WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from a member of The Satanic Temple (TST) 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.
Without comment, the court denied the appeal of Doe v. Parson, which sought to argue that the informed consent and waiting period laws violated a woman’s religious beliefs as her “body is inviolable and subject to her will alone.”
TST had also filed a motion that newly-seated Justice Amy Coney Barrett recuse herself from the case due to her Catholic beliefs on abortion, stating in part, “[A]ny objective observer would reasonably believe it is unlikely Justice Barrett could set aside her deeply-held religious beliefs on the illegitimacy of abortion and barbarity of [Roe v. Wade] to render an impartial decision on the petition.”
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt called the argument “meritless,” opining that the motion “echoes the worst of the hostile public rhetoric and anti-religious animus opposing Justice Barrett’s faith and judicial service.”
The court both denied the motion to disqualify Barrett as well as the case itself.
As previously reported, the Missouri Family Policy Council is stated to be behind the informed consent statute at issue, with the Missiouri Department of Health and Senior Services creating a booklet for distribution to abortion-minded mothers.
The provided pamphlet states that “[t]he life of each human being begins at conception” and that [a]bortion 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 anonymous plaintiff, who only is identified as Judy Doe, filed suit in 2018, arguing 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,” the complaint stated.
She asserted 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.”
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 in June, 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.”
Seemingly as a result, TST announced in August that it had created a “religious ritual” to be conducted whenever a woman obtains an abortion in an effort to obtain an exemption from state abortion regulations under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
According to a letter the organization created for mothers to present to abortion providers, the ritual involves placing oneself in a “meditative and contemplative state” and reciting certain tenets written by the organization.
During the abortion, the third and fifth tenets of TST are to be recited. They state, “One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone,” and “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.”
Upon completion of the abortion, the mother of the now-dead son or daughter is to declare, “By my body, my blood; by my will it is done.”
TST asserts that because the abortive act is now consequently linked to the performance of a religious ritual, any state laws and regulations that serve to be a “burden” on the woman’s religious exercise and “substantially interfere with … [those] practices” would violate the federal RFRA.
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 and not truly a religion in and of itself.
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 [Satanist 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.”