The Satanic Temple is suing Texas over its new near-total abortion ban on religious freedom grounds, KHOU reports.
The Massachusetts-based group, which is a tax-exempted “non-theistic church" whose members don’t actually believe in “the existence of Satan or the supernatural” despite its name, says that its members should be exempt from the new law under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which bars the government from infringing on religious freedoms.
“The Satanic Temple stands ready to assist any member that shares its deeply-held religious convictions regarding the right to reproductive freedom,” the group said. “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.”
One of the group’s beliefs is that “One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.” Another is that “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.”
Group previously challenged abortion laws:
The group previously challenged abortion laws in Texas and other states.
“We will not be intimidated into silence by an unjust law or an authoritarian state government,” said Lucien Greaves, the group’s co-founder and spokesperson. “We intend to fight.”
The group previously sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration calling for its members to have access to abortion pills, which it said are used “in a sacramental setting."
Their letter cited the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was created to allow Native Americans to use peyote for religious rituals.
DOJ vows to “protect” abortion seekers:
Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday that the Justice Department would protect women who seek an abortion in Texas.
“We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services,” Garland said in a statement. “The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack.”
Garland vowed that the DOJ would “protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons” under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act,” which makes it illegal to block, threaten, or obstruct a person seeking to access to an abortion clinic.
But it’s unclear what recourse the federal government has to challenge the law itself.
“I think he was trying to send a signal to people on the ground that they need to physically leave clinics alone. I think there’s a concern that, from reports on the ground, activists are hanging out at the clinics and they’re watching who goes in and out,” Howard Wasserman, a law professor at Florida International University, told the New York Times. “There may be some intimidation going on, and so FACE would be a way to stop that.”