News (USA)

Church will challenge Texas abortion bounty law on religious freedom grounds

January 24, 2020 Anti abortion activists march in the March for Life on the 47th year anniversary of Roe vs Wade.
January 24, 2020 Anti abortion activists march in the March for Life on the 47th year anniversary of Roe vs Wade. Photo: Shutterstock

The Satanic Temple, a group that is recognized as a church by the IRS, is challenging Texas’ new law that would prevent women from getting abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Most women don’t know they are pregnant until after the six week period has expired.

The Temple’s members don’t believe in the “existence of Satan or the supernatural” according to their website. Instead, their worshippers’ “beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.”

Related: Christian conservatives attack Pete & Chasten for “taking these babies away from their mother”

“The Satanic Temple stands ready to assist any member that shares its deeply-held religious convictions regarding the right to reproductive freedom,” the group announced. “Accordingly, we encourage any member who resides in Texas and wishes to undergo the Satanic Abortion Ritual within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy to contact The Satanic Temple so we may help them fight this law directly.”

The church’s “abortion ritual exempts [Satanic Temple] members from enduring medically unnecessary and unscientific regulations when seeking to terminate their pregnancy. The ritual involves the recitation of two of our tenets and a personal affirmation that is ceremoniously intertwined with the abortion. Because prerequisite procedures such as waiting periods, mandatory viewing of sonograms, and compulsory counseling contravene Satanists’ religious convictions, those who perform the religious abortion ritual are exempt from these requirements and can receive first-trimester abortions on demand in states that have enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

The church has also petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to allow them to provide members with abortion drugs citing their religious freedom.

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was instigated and enacted to assure Native Americans could have unfettered access to peyote for their religious rituals,” they say. “Consistent with this purpose, TST wants unfettered access to abortifacients for its religious use. Given that peyote is a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use, TST’s request for access to prescription drugs is even more reasonable to be granted under Federal law.”

The new Texas law offers a $10,000 bounty to anyone who turns in a person they believe has helped in the procurement of an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. It also criminalizes “assisting” the abortion, putting everyone from doctors to the Uber driver who drove them to the clinic at risk of prosecution.

Uber and Lyft have both said they would fight any attempts to punish their drivers under the law.


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