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Satanist challenges Missouri's 72-hour abortion wait: It's "a burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs"

Using similar language Hobby Lobby used to deny contraceptive coverage, the Satanic Temple is seeking an exemption


Jenny Kutner
May 1, 2015 10:03PM (UTC)

Satanists have gotten good at figuring out how to use potentially discriminatory religious exemption laws in their favor, to do exactly the sorts of things religious exemption laws are meant to prevent people from doing -- like having abortions.

A Missouri Satanist, identified only as Mary, is using essentially the same argument Hobby Lobby invoked to refuse contraceptive coverage and abortion care, in order to challenge the state's 72-hour waiting period for abortion. According to the woman, the restriction -- which requires women seeking abortions to attend counseling, then wait three days for an abortion procedure -- is a violation of her sincerely held religious beliefs. And, according to the Supreme Court, those beliefs should be able to take precedent over Missouri's antiabortion laws.

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"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," Mary said in a statement. "The waiting period interferes with the inviolability of my body and thereby imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs."

It's not the first time the Satanic Temple has mimicked arguments all but officially meant to protect conservative religious interests -- and, as a corollary, discrimination. Last year, the religious group challenged the Supreme Court's sweeping Hobby Lobby decision, which effectively granted the majority of American corporations "religious personhood" under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Now, it plans to do the same with Missouri's waiting period law, assuming Mary does not receive an exemption to the 72-hour waiting period when she seeks abortion care.

But, in order to receive that care, Mary will first have to do what thousands of other American women affected by extreme abortion restrictions are forced to do: Figure out how to pay for it. The Satanic Temple has set up a GoFundMe page to help her cover the costs of traveling hundreds of miles to her nearest abortion clinic, in St. Louis, a move that highlights a major detriment of waiting period laws. You know, in addition to the detriment of violating Satanic religious principles.

"The waiting period is another facile and insulting attempt at making abortion services less available," Satanic Temple leader Lucien Greaves said in a statement. "With a dearth of abortion clinics, some women are made to travel a great distance for services they then have to wait three days to receive, adding the expense of accommodations and time away from work."

Mary plans to present a religious exemption waiver when she arrives at Planned Parenthood for her abortion in order to forego the three-day waiting period. Greaves announced plans to take legal action over the Missouri law if her request is denied.

(h/t Raw Story)

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Jenny Kutner

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