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The Satanic Temple Is Suing Missouri Over Its Abortion Law

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal district court, the Temple argues that the restrictions violate its members "rights to free exercise."
Imagen vía AP/Jonathan Bachman

The Satanic Temple is suing the Missouri Governor and Attorneys General over an abortion law that requires women to wait 72 hours and review an "informed consent" booklet before terminating a pregnancy.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal district court, the Temple argues that the restrictions violate its members "rights to free exercise."

Satanists believe that "the body is inviolable and subject to one's own will alone," Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves told VICE News. "The law as it stands violates our religious freedom."


The case centers on temple member identified as "Mary Doe," who sought an abortion this past year in Missouri. Doe was required by state law to take 72 hours to review a booklet of information before undergoing the procedure. The booklet reads: "The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

In 2014, the Missouri legislature overrode their governor's veto to put in place some of the strictest restriction on abortion in the country. The state is now one of only three in the US that requires a 72-hour wait, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

There is only one place women can seek abortion in the state: a Planned Parenthood location in the city of St. Louis.

Related: The Satanic Temple Wants to Use Hobby Lobby Against 'Informed Consent' Abortion Laws

Mary Doe went to that clinic with a letter outlining the Satanic Temple's religious perspective, and asked to not be forced to review the "informed consent booklet" mandated by the legislature.

According to a copy of the lawsuit provided to VICE News, members of the Satanic Temple believe that women should be allowed to "make decisions regarding their health based on the best scientific understanding of the world," and that, "she alone decides whether to remove Human Tissue from her body."

In line with her stated religious beliefs, Mary Doe's letter announced: "I chose to have an abortion today — now — and without further review of the Booklet." Planned Parenthood did not provide her with an abortion.

"We drew up that letter nearly a year ago," Lucien Greaves explained to VICE News. "But this is the first time something like this happened with Mary Doe."

The federal lawsuit, which mirrors a similar suit filed by the Temple in state court in early May, is intended to launch a nationwide push against abortion restriction.

The Satanic Temple's argument draws inspiration from the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed private corporations to opt out of laws that violate their owner's religious beliefs.

"Hobby Lobby opened the door to more robust religious exemptions," said Greaves. "We are just as deserving of a religious exemption as anyone else."