An adherent of the Satanic Temple on Tuesday filed suit against Gov. Eric Greitens and the state of Missouri in the Missouri Supreme Court, claiming that a state law requiring a mandatory 72-hour waiting period before an abortion violated the plaintiff’s religious belief that life does not begin at conception.
This is the first lawsuit of its kind filed in the Missouri Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court, the Kansas City Star reports.
In addition to requiring women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion, the state law also stipulates that women seeking an abortion must sign a document acknowledging that life begins at the moment of conception. The law further requires that women be provided an opportunity to view an ultrasound of the fetus, as well as listen to its heartbeat.
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The plaintiff, whose identity has been kept anonymous, is a Greene County resident, referred to only as “Mary Doe” in court records.
According to Mary Doe’s attorney, James Mac Naughton, “[Doe’s] journey led her to believe the tissue she was carrying was just that: tissue. But in the steps of Mary Doe’s journey, the state of Missouri says, ‘Wait a minute, little lady, you’re about to commit murder.’ … They want to change her mind and her heart, change the way she sees herself in the cosmos.”
Attorney John Sauer, representing the state of Missouri, contends that the state law at the heart of the case is not a religious one, but is instead philosophical in nature. He disagrees with Naughton’s assertion that the state law infringes on Doe’s religious beliefs, arguing instead that it does not compel Doe to change her views toward abortion or alter her opinion regarding when life begins.
Sauer contends that Doe is seeking to nullify the state’s “philosophical definition” of life by imposing her own “religious definitions” on the matter at hand.
“She’s not a bad believer under her religion [by conforming to the state’s informed consent laws,” Saur commented. However, “Her argument is that the state is a bad believer.”
Jex Blackmore, a spokeswoman for the Satanic Temple, pushed back against Sauer’s characterization of Doe’s case.
“They do everything to impose guilt and shame on [women seeking abortions] … and that’s seen through a purely ideological viewpoint promoted by the state,” Blackmore said.
“[Missouri] forces women to wait 72 hours in order to consider the State’s position that life begins at conception,” Blackmore stated.
Blackmore is of the opinion that providing women the chance to view a fetal ultrasound and hear the heartbeat is a “violation of the Satanic Temple’s beliefs,” arguing a brochure provided to Doe constituted a “political and religious statement” meant to convince women that their fetus is a separate and viable human, according to the Huffington Post.
Satanists have long been a thorn in the side of conservatives asserting religious liberty.
When the Oklahoma Statehouse installed a monument honoring the Ten Commandments outside of the State Capitol in 2012, the Church of Satan responded by erecting its own monument, a disturbing statue depicting the goat-headed Baphomet surrounded by children under a pentagram. (RELATED: Satanist Group And Pro-Life Org Are Battling Over An Abortion Waiting Period Law)
Although Satanists’ tongue-in-cheek repudiations of conventional religious displays on government property have not garnered the support of many conservatives, many secularists and left-leaning political voices have praised their commitment to playing devil’s advocate against what they perceive to be a Judeo-Christian religious hegemony. (RELATED: Chelsea Clinton Wishes The Church Of Satan A Happy New Year)