Friday, January 26, 2018

Satanic Temple challenges Missouri's abortion law on religious grounds

NBC News (January 24, 2018): Satanic Temple challenges Missouri's abortion law on religious grounds, by Corky Siemaszko:

On January 23, the Supreme Court of Missouri heard argument in Doe v. Greitens, a case challenging Missouri abortion regulations under the state religious freedom restoration act and the Establishment Clause of the federal constitution.  The Plaintiff, Mary Doe was forced to view an ultrasound and confirm that she had read a state mandated booklet stating that “life of every human being begins at conception.” Doe alleges that Missouri's requirements violate her religious beliefs as a member of the Satanic Temple that "a nonviable fetus is not a separate human being but is part of her body and that abortion of a nonviable fetus does not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."  A spokesperson for the Satanic Temple argues that the Missouri law seeks to indoctrinate a single religious viewpoint and punish women who disagree. 

According to NBC News, in October 2017, the Missouri Court of Appeals sent the case to the state Supreme Court because

"Neither the Missouri Supreme Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court has considered whether a Booklet of this nature, an Ultrasound, an Audible Heartbeat Offer, and a seventy-two-hour Waiting Period violate the Religion Clause rights of pregnant women," Judge Thomas Newton wrote for the majority. "Because we believe that this case raises real and substantial constitutional claims, it is within the Missouri Supreme Court's exclusive jurisdiction.”

The case appears to have already resulted in some change in abortion regulation in Missouri because at oral argument, the Missouri's Attorney General stated that  “it’s the position of the State that an ultrasound does not have to be conducted unless a person says they want the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.”

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