The Satanic Temple squared off this week over abortion restrictions as a member argued they violate her "deeply held religious beliefs" before the Missouri Supreme Court.
The case of the Satanist, identified anonymously in court documents as Mary Doe, convinced a state appeals court last fall that Missouri's law providing an ultrasound of her fetus prior to an abortion may "violate the Religion Clause rights of pregnant women," that court ruled.
Now the Satanic Temple, which filed a lawsuit on Doe's behalf in 2015, saw oral arguments for the case to go before state's highest court on Tuesday, Newsweek reported.
“The state has essentially established a religious indoctrination program intended to promote a religious viewpoint that life begins at conception,” Jex Blackmore, a Satanic Temple spokeswoman, said in a statement last fall. “The law is intended to punish women who disagree with this opinion.”
The Satanic Temple, an religious organization, has made headlines in recent years as a foil to religious influence in government, pushing for after-school programs and a statue of the idol Baphomet on public grounds. (The Massachusetts-based group views Satan as a metaphor for rebellion, not a literal figure.)
According to a case summary, Doe became pregnant in February 2015 and came to a St. Louis clinic that May for an abortion, where the clinic offered to let Doe hear her fetus' heartbeat during an ultrasound and was given a booklet that "states that human life begins at conception."
She received the abortion after a required 72-hour waiting period, despite giving doctors a letter beforehand stating her "deeply held religious beliefs that a non-viable fetus is not a separate human being but is part of her body and that abortion of a non-viable fetus does not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."
At question, the summary states, is whether Doe "sufficiently stated" her religious objection to the law. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office, which is defending the state, has argued that Doe "failed to allege any conflict between her putative Satanic beliefs" and the state's law, NBC reports.
On Tuesday, according toThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Judge Laura Denvir Stith noted that while doctors are required to provide the booklet, Doe "wasn’t required to read it.”
“She wasn’t forced to say she agreed with it,” Stith said.