Satanic Temple claims religious exemption from Texas fetal burial law


A new law that takes effect this month in Texas requires that the remains of aborted babies be buried or cremated, and The Satanic Temple is crying foul. The Satanic Temple says the new law violates its own religious beliefs because they believe the human body is inviolable, one of its religious tenets.

Reuters reports:

In two weeks, a new state rule on medical waste will take effect in Texas, meaning aborted fetal tissue must undergo “interment.”

From December 18, Texas hospitals and abortion clinics will no longer be permitted to place fetal tissue in sanitary landfills and instead will have to organize a burial of sorts. Although not an official law, the rule could be used to guide court procedures.

The Satanic Temple, which uses Satan as a symbol to promote secularism, has now denounced the rule for enforcing a “well-established component of religious practice.”

On its website, the Satanic Temple statement on the Texas law says:

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services plans to enforce new rules that require that fetal tissue must be buried or cremated and can no longer be disposed of in sanitary landfills as they are in every other state.

The Satanic Temple believes burial rites are a well-established component of religious practice. This is undisputed in the entirety of US legal history. In addition, members of The Satanic Temple believe in the inviolability of the body and, as such, these rules contradict our fundamental beliefs. The First Amendment protects our right to practice our beliefs, and under the Religious Freedom Reform Act (RFRA), the State must present a compelling reason for why they want to enforce rules that inhibit adherence to our religious practices. Clearly, the State of Texas has no compelling reason because these rules were not enacted to promote health and safety, but rather to harass and burden women who terminate their pregnancies.

For these reasons, members of The Satanic Temple are not required to comply with the Texas rule on fetal remains. Nevertheless, we will require legal support to protect the rights of our members.

The Satanic Temple is also challenging a Missouri law which requires pregnant women seeking abortions to be given reading material on her developing baby, as well as undergo a 72-hour waiting period. The temple says the Texas and Missouri regulations “have no purpose other than to make abortion difficult and ultimately impossible to obtain. The success of our lawsuits would be a huge victory over all restrictive abortion laws that have no medical purpose.”

No further details were given on how a three day waiting period, information on fetal development, or rules requiring the cremation of remains would make abortion “ultimately impossible to obtain.”

Ultimately, of course, the Satanic Temple is protesting the implied value of the life of a preborn baby. And the pro-abortion website Jezebel feels they are right to do so, writing, “[T]he Satanic Temple sees the whole thing for what it is: a naked bid to elevate fetal tissue to the status of a human being.” Jezebel also quotes the Temple’s spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, who said “fetal tissue burial is a punitive measure imposed by sadistic theocrats” who “deem harassment an acceptable form of pushing their misguided religious agendas.”

Of course, despite The Satanic Temple’s insistence that the state has no interest in the disposal of fetal remains, the fact is, it does. As a congressional committee has just referred Planned Parenthood to the Texas attorney general for possible criminal charges for its role in trafficking human fetal parts, it’s clear that due to the potential violation of federal laws regarding the acquisition and disposal of aborted babies in the state, Texas has a compelling interest in this matter. And The Satanic Temple seems ready to take it to court. According to, The Satanic Temple says it is ready to file a lawsuit: “If one of our members claims exemption from this upon terminating a pregnancy, and the state insists that the burial fee must be paid, we will immediately file an injunction. We will sue, and we will win.”

That verdict will, of course, be up to a judge.

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