Satanic Temple Argues New Texas Heartbeat Law Infringes on Its Religious Freedom
The Satanic Temple is arguing that the new Texas heartbeat law, the law that bans most abortions in Texas after six weeks’ gestation, infringes on the group’s religious freedom.
According to The Christian Post, the Massachusetts-based group The Satanic Temple says the Texas law imposes an “undue burden” on its “satanic abortion ritual.”
“The Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA) provides a mechanism to seek an exemption from any law that restricts the free exercise of religion. Because S.B. 8 imposes an undue burden on the ability of TST members to undergo the Satanic Abortion Ritual, the first step in defending the rights of its members is to seek an exemption under TRFRA. If the state declines to provide such an exemption, TST can then seek judicial relief from the law,” the Satanic Temple said in a statement on its website.
The Texas Heartbeat Bill bans most abortions in the state after six weeks by allowing private citizens to take civil action against anyone who “performs and induces an abortion” or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of abortion through insurance or otherwise.”
In a letter to the FDA, Matthew A. Kezhaya, an attorney for The Satanic Temple, asked that the group be granted a religious exemption from the law as well as access to mifepristone and misoprostol – abortion-inducing drugs – without a prescription as part of its “sacramental” abortion ritual.
“TST’s membership uses these products in a sacramental setting. 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 REMS prescription requirement substantially interferes with the Satanic Abortion Ritual because the Government impedes the members’ access to the medication involved in the ritual,” the letter said.
Kezhaya added that the religious exemption would be similar to the granted use of peyote in some Native American rituals, which is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“The battle for abortion rights is largely a battle of competing religious viewpoints, and our viewpoint that the nonviable fetus is part of the impregnated host is fortunately protected under Religious Liberty,” said Lucien Greaves, spokesman and co-founder of The Satanic Temple.
The new Texas law went into effect on Sept. 1, and the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled against it.
Last week, District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble temporarily granted Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas a request from being sued under the new law. The temporary order is mainly aimed at lawsuits that could come from nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion organization.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.