Missouri: Court Holds Hearing on Satantist’s Lawsuit to Stop 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period

State   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Sep 29, 2015   |   2:31PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

In June, a group of Satan worshipers sued Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his Attorney General, Chris Koster over a state law that requires women to wait 72-hours before having an abortion. A woman known only as “Mary Doe” filed the suit on behalf of The Satanic Temple in St. Louis; and the suit alleges that the pro-life law violates her religious beliefs.

The suit said, “All women who are contemplating getting an abortion in Missouri have the right, pursuant to the First Amendment, to exercise their freedom to believe when human life begins and act upon their belief without interference or influence by the state of Missouri.”

Now, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem is reviewing the lawsuit but has not indicated if he will issue a ruling. Governor Nixon and Attorney General Koster previously asked a federal judge to scrap the lawsuit because The Satanic Temple has not sufficiently shown they’ve been harmed and they believe they are constitutionally protected.

They also mentioned that the new law does not force women to read informative literature; instead, it requires that abortion providers make the information available 72-hours prior to an abortion. The Missouri officials said, “It does not compel these patents to accept, read or agree with the literature.”

The Missourian reports that Assistant Attorney General John Hirth represented the state in court on September 28th. He argued that the right to receive abortion “on-demand” is not protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Hirth also reiterated that the law simply gives women the option to view informative materials and requires them to wait before making the irrevocable choice to have an abortion.

He said, “The law does not require that she read those materials, or that she get an ultrasound. I don’t think that anyone can dispute that having an abortion is a weighty decision. The state has passed a law that says a doctor can’t just immediately tell you that message and give you an abortion.”

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However, the attorney who represented Mary Doe argued that the law violates his client’s religious beliefs because Satanists believe they should have control over their own bodies. James MacNaughton explained, “Part of having a sincerely held religious belief is that you get to exercise it when you want. Otherwise, you don’t have it. That’s precisely what’s happening here.”

He concluded, “[Doe] is asking for an abortion on demand. [In Missouri] the Legislature has deemed that human life begins at conception. They’ve deemed that an abortion is a termination of human life separate and independent from the mother. These are religious beliefs and she says, ‘No, thank you, I don’t believe in that stuff.’ In this context, when someone does not agree with the politics or the religion, they have to wait, for no purpose whatsoever. It’s downright punitive.”