The Satanic Temple of the United States (TST) plans to file legal challenges against any states that restrict or ban abortions, claiming that such procedures constitute religious rituals for its adherents.
As Fox News reports, TST released a statement declared that “in states that outlaw abortion but grant exceptions for instances of incest and rape, members should be permitted a religious exception to perform TST’s religious abortion ritual.”
“States that outlaw abortion and do not grant exceptions present more significant challenges, but TST has a number of plans that we will be undertaking quite soon,” the statement continued. “First, we will be suing the FDA to permit TST access to Mifepristone and Misoprostol for use under medical supervision as part of our religious abortion ritual.”
To this end, the Satanists plan to file their lawsuits under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 law that made it illegal for state governments to interfere in religious practices without first demonstrating a “compelling interest” in doing so. TST claims that under this law, “unfettered access” to the aforementioned abortion drugs is necessary to ensure that its followers can perform ritualistic abortions without government interference.
TST has long considered abortion to be one of its “religious” rituals, with one of their main beliefs being that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.” The ritual in question, as described by TST’s website, involves a member reciting two of its tenets along with a personal affirmation that is “ceremoniously intertwined” with the act of the abortion itself.
“Because prerequisite procedures such as waiting periods, mandatory viewing of sonograms, and compulsory counseling contravene Satanists’ religious convictions,” the website says, “those who perform the religious abortion ritual are exempt from these requirements and can receive first-trimester abortions on demand in states that enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
The move by the Satanists represents just another example of backlash from radical elements of the United States in response to the news last week that the Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The news was leaked to Politico, with a draft of the ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito, with the support of four other justices, which would completely overturn Roe and the 1992 ruling Planned Parenthood v. Casey. If the Court does indeed make this ruling official in June, then the issue of abortion would be returned to individual states to decide.