PROVO, Utah — A “non-theistic” organization of Satanists has launched efforts to blunt abortion restrictions in Texas, Ohio and other states, including a Utah measure that would outlaw most abortions should the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing the procedure.
“These laws infringe on our religious rights to bodily autonomy and access to scientifically valid medical information and care,” said Chalice Blythe, a clinical researcher in Tucson, Arizona, who said she is an ordained minister in The Satanic Temple.
“We’re making a stance that, as religious individuals protected under the First Amendment and protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, we should not be subjected to laws, state mandates, propaganda, and restricted access that violates our religious beliefs,” Ms. Blythe added.
The moves by The Satanic Temple, headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, align with those of other humanist and atheist groups that have opposed the anti-abortion laws in Texas and Mississippi.
Ms. Blythe said The Satanic Temple does not worship Satan but instead views him as “a literary metaphor.” She said members of the group claim “humanistic qualities” as their motivation.
“Satan is always represented [as] unbound will standing against arbitrary authority, and has always been a symbol for these things,” she said. “We see Satan as emblematic of all of these characteristics that we hold very true to ourselves.”
Ms. Blythe acknowledged that the “optics” of a group of Satanists supporting abortion rights might present a challenging image. She said the group does not view abortion “as some kind of religious sacrament.”
The group’s website, however, claims an “abortion ritual” in which bodily autonomy is declared as a reason the right to abortion should be protected.
Ms. Blythe said the temple’s members “are guided by our sincere and deeply held beliefs, and those beliefs hold that we have an inviolable right to make decisions about our own bodies, and that those decisions are ours alone to make.”
In Texas, the group said its belief that one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone” qualifies for protection under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act and supersedes state Senate Bill 8, which allows private citizens to sue those providing abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Ohio’s 2020 legislation mandating the burial or cremation of aborted fetal remains violates the temple’s “deeply-held beliefs [that] call for fetal tissue to be incinerated with other medical waste,” according to a temple statement promising legal action.
The temple failed in its 2020 challenge to a Missouri law requiring abortion patients to get a pamphlet stating the procedure “will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit rejected a lawsuit from Satanic Temple member Judy Doe claiming the pamphlet violated her religious beliefs.
Ms. Blythe said the group will rally outside the Utah State Capitol on Saturday to support reproductive rights as part of their religious liberty.
The Temple, which has “more than 100” members in the state, also is concerned about a 2020 Utah law that would ban almost all abortion procedures should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
Such laws “center on what people consider to be, quote, unquote, [the] ‘personhood’ of a zygote or fetus, which is purely a religious opinion,” Ms. Blythe said.
“Satanists are guided by their religious view that personhood is dictated by scientifically sound facts, as well as their own personal experiences and values. We don’t conceptualize this procedure as killing a unique individual being that is separate from the pregnant person,” she added.
The rally’s impact on the Utah State Legislature may be limited, one state representative told The Washington Times.
“For me, and I would probably say many of the legislators, it will have no effect,” said Republican state Rep. A. Cory Maloy. “It may rally some of the pro-choice groups, [and] maybe some of our Democratic colleagues.”