For years, the Satanic Temple has been trying to have abortion laws in Missouri overturned. In 2015, a plaintiff under the alias of “Mary Doe” filed a lawsuit objecting to Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period and informed consent law, with the case heard before the Missouri Supreme Court in 2017. Doe claimed this law violated her “religious freedom,” arguing:
As you know, state law requires a waiting period after I first receive counseling before I can undergo an abortion. I regard a waiting period as a state sanctioned attempt to discourage abortion by instilling an unnecessary burden as part of the process to obtain this legal medical procedure. The waiting period interferes with the inviolability of my body and thereby imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs.
This letter constitutes my acknowledgment that you have notified me of the state mandated waiting period, but demands that you do not abide by this obligation because the waiting period offends my sincerely held religious beliefs, which take precedent.
According to Lucien Greaves, co-founder of the Satanic Temple, abortion is a religious right for them. “As Satanists we believe in individual autonomy, personal choice, and the inviolability of one’s own body,” he said. “Further, we believe one should be free to make one’s own decisions, uncoerced, based on the best available scientific evidence, whether or not the science comports with the religious and/or political views of others.”
The Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled in her favor earlier this month after the case was rejected by the Cole County Circuit Court. Now, however, a federal appeals court has thrown out the lawsuit, saying that Doe was not pregnant when she sued and therefore, “lacked constitutional standing.”
In addition to a 72-hour waiting period, Missouri law requires women to be given a booklet explaining fetal development, including that life begins at fertilization. It also requires women to be offered an ultrasound and the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.
While this is a momentary victory for life, the Satanic Temple is not giving up on their crusade in support of abortion. There are still two more lawsuits pending on their behalf in Missouri. In these cases, the women were both pregnant when they filed. But Mary Compton, spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, promised that Missouri will “continue to vigorously defend Missouri’s sensible waiting period law.”