Court Rules Satanic Temple Can’t Claim Killing Babies in Abortions is a Protected Religious Ritual

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 6, 2023   |   11:15AM   |   Austin, Texas

A federal court in Texas rejected “persecution” claims by The Satanic Temple this week in a lawsuit challenging pro-life laws that protect unborn babies from abortion.

The Satanic Temple, which has been involved in abortion activism for years, claims that aborting unborn babies is a “ritual” and Texas pro-life laws violate its members’ religious freedom.

However, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas rejected its lawsuit this week. Bloomberg Law reports the court described the lawsuit as cryptic and noted the lack of basic facts about plaintiff “Ann Doe’s” standing to sue.

The Satanic Temple initially filed the lawsuit in 2021 against Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Cecile Young based on religious freedom and free speech grounds. The group challenged state informed consent laws, including a waiting period requirement and another requiring that a pregnant mother be given the opportunity to hear her unborn baby’s heartbeat and see the child’s image on an ultrasound.

Then, in December, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Texas began enforcing its abortion ban, the satanic group filed an amended complaint arguing that the laws prohibit its members from performing abortion “rituals,” The Texan reports.

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“As a sometimes-unexpected byproduct of a lustful linkup, a non-viable fetus presents some of TST’s [The Satanic Temple] membership with the life-altering chance of whether to undertake the ultimate sacrifice of becoming a mother,” the lawsuit argues. “TST’s membership do not invest within that choice any divine implications, as adherents of Christianity do, because TST’s membership does not subscribe to self-deprecation as a lifestyle.”

Because Texas laws protect unborn babies at all stages of life, the group claimed its members cannot perform abortion “rituals” and therefore are at “ongoing risk of persecution because we think and act differently from majoritarian religious beliefs.”

The satanic group teaches that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone,” and “beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world.” It also compares the “ritual” killing of unborn babies in abortions to communion or baptism in the Christian faith.

“The Satanic Abortion Ritual is a sacrament which surrounds and includes the abortive act. It is designed to combat feelings of guilt, doubt, and shame and to empower the member to assert or reassert power and control over their own mind and body,” the group wrote in its original lawsuit.

Back in 2021, Texas Right to Life president Elizabeth Graham responded to the initial lawsuit with disgust.

“When you think of ugliness that makes your skin crawl, Satanic abortion rituals are almost unimaginable,” Graham said. “Satan has always demanded the shedding of innocent blood. This child-sacrifice continues today despite laws that safeguard preborn children.”

For years, the Satanic Temple has been suing to challenge pro-life laws in various states, but so far, all of its lawsuits have failed. In 2020, a federal appeals court rejected its attempt at challenging a Missouri informed consent law. In 2019, the Missouri Supreme Court dismissed another one of the Satanic Temple’s lawsuits.

But every time it loses, it tries again with a new approach. Its plan is to challenge pro-life laws based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which ensures the government does not unnecessarily interfere with people’s religious freedom.

The Satanic Temple is heavily involved in abortion activism in the U.S. Breitbart once described its work as a “pro-abortion crusade to come to the aid of America’s largest abortion provider,” Planned Parenthood.