The Satanic Temple (TST) claimed that religious freedom laws ought to exempt them from state abortion restrictions because some of their members regard first-trimester abortion as a religious ritual.
As reported by Salt Lake City ABC affiliate KUTV, TST said in a press release that it “bases its assertions of abortion mandate exemptions on the protections provided by State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts or RFRA, which generally prohibits the government from substantially interfering with a person’s free exercise of religion.”
According to the announcement on their website, which bears the slogan “Thyself Is Thy Master,” TST claims abortion can be a religious rite for some Satanists because “the Satanic abortion ritual provides spiritual comfort and affirms bodily autonomy, self-worth, and freedom from coercive forces with the affirmation of TST’s Seven Tenets.”
“The ritual is not intended to convince a person to have an abortion. Instead, it sanctifies the abortion process by instilling confidence and protecting bodily rights when undergoing the safe and scientific procedure,” it added.
The ritual itself involves gazing at one’s reflection in a mirror prior to either a medically-induced or surgical abortion and affirming aloud the TST tenets that “One’s body is inviolable, and subject to one’s own will alone,” and “Beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world,” and “One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.”
The state restrictions by which TST claims Satanists are exempt under RFRA are mandatory waiting periods, the requirement that practitioners withhold certain medical information, compulsory counseling prior to an abortion, required reading materials, medically unnecessary sonograms, mandatory listening to the fetal heartbeat, and the compulsory burial or cremation of fetal remains.
“The intent of the full ritual is to empower and to allow the patient to feel confidence in their choice,” said TST spokeswoman Jane Essex in an explanatory video. Appealing to the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case at the Supreme Court, Essex further explained TST’s assertion that their right to unrestricted abortion falls under that decision.
“Any state-mandated violation of the Third and Fifth Tenets compromises the abortion ritual by forcing the Satanist to violate their deeply held beliefs, which goes against the Hobby Lobby decision. So medically unnecessary requirement violates our religious practices,” she said.
Essex also claimed TST might seek legal action if a clinic denies a Satanist’s supposed religious exemptions. “A denial would mean that the clinic is prohibiting that person from performing a religious ritual, and The Satanic Temple will intervene to make sure that our members’ right to partake in this abortion ritual is granted. So, if necessary, we’ll take legal action to help the patient in filing a complaint for declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction, as well as an emergency preliminary injunction.”
TST lauded the removal of the Confederate flag from Mississippi’s state flag last month, but threatened to sue the state when they did not also remove the motto “In God We Trust.” In 2018, they protested a display of the Ten Commandments outside the Arkansas State Capitol by unveiling a statue of children looking up in adoration to Baphomet, an androgynous winged demon with a goat head.
— Marine Glisovic KATV (@KATVMarine) August 16, 2018
Founded in 2013, TST denies belief in a personal Devil, maintaining instead that “to embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions,” according to its website.
As The Daily Wire reported, Pastor John MacArthur, whose church made headlines recently for defying Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lockdown order against in-person assembly, said in a recent interview that “a literal satanic free-for-all” is breaking out in American culture, and that all restraints against evil are under attack. “What we’ve seen in our society is the destruction of the human conscience,” he said.