- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri’s governor and top law enforcer are asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit by a group of Satanic worshippers who allege the state’s abortion restrictions violate their religious beliefs and should be scrapped.

Attorneys for Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss the suit by The Satanic Temple and a Missouri member identified only as “Mary Doe,” saying that as elected officials they are constitutionally protected from such lawsuits and that the group hasn’t sufficiently shown it has been harmed.

The lawsuit, filed in June, questions Missouri law that requires abortion providers to give pregnant women information about the physical characteristics of the fetus and the fetus’ ability to feel pain by at least 22 weeks. The statute also requires a 72-hour waiting period after providing the woman with an opportunity to view an ultrasound and hear the fetus’ heartbeat.

But according to the lawsuit, Missouri wrongly regulates abortion “to promote some, but not all, religious beliefs that human tissue is, from conception, a separate and unique human being whose destruction is morally wrong.”

The lawsuit, describing the temple as “an association of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty,” says Mary Doe is a follower of the Satanic Tenets that deny that life begins at conception or that having an abortion is morally wrong. Those tenets also insist that a follower “makes decisions regarding her health based on the best scientific understanding of the world, even if the science does not comport with the religious or political beliefs of others,” and that “she alone decides whether to remove human tissue from her body.”

Missouri’s “informed consent” counseling and waiting period are not medically necessary for any believer in the Satanic Tenets to make an informed decision on an abortion, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit claims that the law causes Mary Doe, who previously terminated a pregnancy at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri and may again decide to have an abortion, and “pregnant members of The Satanic Temple to endure delay, doubt, guilt and shame when they exercise their religious beliefs to abort human tissue in accordance with the Satanic Tenets.”

“All women who are contemplating getting an abortion in Missouri have the right, pursuant to the First Amendment, to exercise their freedom to believe when human life begins and act upon their belief without interference or influence by the state of Missouri,” the lawsuit argues.

But the state, in its filing Tuesday, countered that “the legal theory underlying the plantiffs’ (First Amendment) claim is unclear,” noting that while abortion providers by law must make certain information available to a patient 72 hours before the procedure “it does not compel these patents to accept, read or agree with” the literature.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide