A win, at least for now. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a member of the Satanic Temple could not challenge Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period/informed consent law because she was not pregnant at the time of her lawsuit and therefore lacked standing. The three-judge panel unanimously upheld a federal appeal court’s dismissal.
The judges wrote that “although ‘[p]regnancy provides a classic justification for a conclusion of nonmootness,’ the doctrine does not apply here because she did not first establish standing.”
However, as NRL News Today reported in January, the Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of “Mary Doe,” the “same plaintiff in the Eighth Circuit case [who] was pregnant when she sued,” according to Courthouse News Service.
Missouri’s law has a 72 hour waiting period between the time a woman first meets an abortionist and (if she goes forward) has an abortion. It also requires that a booklet be made available and that the woman be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound and to hear the fetal heartbeat.
The sentence in the booklet which Doe argues “promotes a religious doctrine she does not believe in” says, “(t)he life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”
“We are pleased with the court’s ruling,” Mary Compton, communications director for Attorney General Joshua Hawley, said in a statement. “The attorney general’s office will continue to vigorously defend Missouri’s sensible waiting period law.”
After her abortion, citing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Doe and the Satanic Temple filed suit against the State of Missouri at both the federal and state levels in an effort to obtain an exemption. Doe’s complaint asserts “The decision [to abort] is substantially motivated and informed by Mary Doe’s belief in the Tenets [of the Satanic Temple],” adding, “Thus its implementation, i.e., getting an abortion, is the ‘exercise of religion’ protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”
In a fine story, Heather Clark provides abundant background both to the case and to the Satanic Temple.
Clark noted of the complaint
that Doe doesn’t believe “as a matter of religious faith” that life begins at conception, but that she rather feels that she is simply aborting “tissue” that is “part of her body, and not a separate, unique, living human being.” However, it also stated that Doe “felt guilt and shame” for declining to hear the heartbeat of her unborn child during the ultrasound that is required 72 hours before the abortion.