Unintended Consequences of Religious Freedom Laws

May 13, 2015

Talk about unintended consequences of laws that were created by Christian conservatives to protect religious freedom…

A group calling itself The Satanic Temple (TST) has filed a legal challenge to Missouri’s restrictive abortion law on behalf of a woman seeking an abortion.  The legal challenge is based on the claim that Missouri’s 72 hour waiting period and requirement that women seeking abortions be presented with a booklet of what TST calls “medically irrelevant anti-abortion propaganda,” violates the plaintiff’s “sincerely-held religious beliefs,” a clear reference to the state’s Religious Freedom law.

Read more about this interesting legal challenge via the links below.

From the Orlando Weekly (an article by the TST spokesperson Lucien Grieves):

“On May 8th, an attorney for The Satanic Temple (TST) submitted a legal filing in Missouri opposed to anti-abortion legislation that, according to TST, constitutes a restriction of their free exercise of religion.”

From Jezebel:

“In his blog, Greaves writes dryly that Religious Freedom Restoration Acts are ‘commonly popular among Christian conservatives who endorse it as essential to preserving the spiritual innocence of pious bakers who might otherwise be forced to bake cakes for Godless homosexuals.’ But—sweet irony alert—it has to protect fans of Satan too.”

From Salon:

“The argument is, as Greaves characterizes it, ‘nuanced’ — and it’s yet unclear how TST’s claims will play out in court. In addition to requesting damages for Mary for being forced to comply with the state’s waiting period and counseling requirements against her religious beliefs, the temple is also pushing for the abortion restrictions to be overturned completely. After all, if the group can prove enforcement of the law does violate Missouri’s RFRA, something might have to give. It might just be that the state will have to start applying religious liberty protections more evenly.”

From Verdict, a blog on the Justia site:

“Can the government show that a coercive informed consent abortion law serves a compelling interest? In Hobby Lobby, the Court did not even bother to consider this issue, but rather simply assumed it. So we will assume it here. What is the interest we are assuming is compelling? Let’s say it is providing as much information—true or false—as possible so the woman will consider all of the options before obtaining the early term abortion that is her right under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.”

From the Riverfront Times, (they interviewed the plaintiff in the case).

” ‘As you know, state law requires a waiting period after I first receive counseling before I can undergo an abortion,’ reads a document Mary will hand her doctor. ‘I regard a waiting period as a state sanctioned attempt to discourage abortion by instilling an unnecessary burden as part of the process to obtain this legal medical procedure. The waiting period interferes with the inviolability of my body and thereby imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs.’ ”

From the National Catholic Register:

“What science is she talking about? At the moment of conception, the unborn child has a unique DNA. That’s science. Anything else is just propaganda.”

 

Lē Isaac Weaver
Lē Weaver identifies as a non-binary writer, musician, and feminist spiritual seeker. Their work draws attention to: the ongoing trauma experienced by women and LGBTQIA people in this “Christian” society; Christ/Sophia’s desire that each of us move deeper into our own practice of non-violence; and the desperate need to move away from an androcentric conception of God.

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