Federal court tosses Satanists’ lawsuit against informing women when life begins
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COLUMBIA, Missouri, June 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – On Tuesday, the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit by the left-wing secular advocacy group Satanic Temple that sought to challenge Missouri’s law requiring that women be given critical information before going through with aborting their children.
Missouri law places a 72-hour waiting period on abortion and requires abortionists to provide women considering abortion with information about its medical risks and the humanity of the preborn child, including a definitive statement that “the life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”
Last fall, the Satanic Temple (which embraces Satan as a “symbol of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority,” but does not believe he literally exists) filed a lawsuit against the law on behalf of an anonymous member who was subjected to its provisions while seeking an abortion.
On Tuesday, the appellate court affirmed a previous lower court ruling against the Temple, the Associated Press reported, ultimately concluding the claim was moot because, had the state officially taken the position that life does not begin at conception, that would be asserting personal belief, as well.
“Any theory of when life begins necessarily aligns with some religious beliefs and not others,” the court reasoned. “So under (Jane) Doe’s theory, Missouri’s only option would be to avoid legislating in this area altogether.”
“We can’t for a moment believe that our case would be so thoughtlessly dismissed, the arguments we presented so willfully evaded by the reviewing judges, if we were a Christian organization,” Satanic Temple co-founder and spokesman Lucien Greaves responded. “If there were a process whereby religious claims were sufficiently anonymized — the judges blinded to the religious identity of the plaintiff and only apprised of the pertinent legal arguments presented — there is no doubt that our situation would be entirely different today.”
“Of course, we will appeal,” Greaves added. “We will fight for our equality with every appeal available to us, even as the hypocrisy of the courts is made increasingly, and flagrantly, more plain.”
Lost in the above arguments is the fact that the statement required by Missouri law is not only a religious belief, but a settled biological fact. When the Satanic Temple attempted a similar lawsuit in 2015, then-Attorney General Chris Koster noted that the Temple could not “cite a single opinion from any state or federal court holding that a state’s expression of a value judgment about abortion constitutes an establishment of religion,” and that the “Eighth Circuit decision on which they rely was reversed by the Supreme Court 26 years ago” (emphasis in the original).
While the vehemently pro-abortion Satanic Temple’s activist litigation may be no stronger than that of any other pro-abortion group, it has found greater success with its cultural protests. In April 2019, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) formally recognized it as a church despite its explicitly-secular nature and failure to meet the IRS’s usual criteria for churches. The new status is expected to aid the group in its legal claims in cases such as its placing of Satanic statues in the state capitals of Arkansas and Illinois.