- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 5, 2023

There’s a new abortion service coming soon to New Mexico, but don’t expect to see Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham at the grand opening.

The Satanic Temple is planning to open a telehealth clinic staffed by medical professionals, including former Planned Parenthood employees, offering prescriptions for abortion pills free of charge for those willing to perform the organization’s spoken-word “abortion ritual.”

The specter of Satanists getting into the abortion business sounds like something ripped from the pages of the Babylon Bee, but Erin Helian, the Satanic Temple’s “religious reproductive rights director,” insists that the project isn’t satire.

“I can assure you we are opening a real telehealth clinic in New Mexico,” Ms. Helian told The Washington Times in an email. “Opening date will be February 14th. Many members of our well-trained medical staff come from other reproductive access clinics, such as Planned Parenthood. We will also have licensed RNs available 24/7 for our patients.”

TST Health will operate entirely online with no brick-and-mortar presence, but clients must have a New Mexico mailing address and be located in the state at the time of their virtual appointments. The prescription, which costs about $90, would be filled by the clinic’s pharmacy and mailed in a “discreet package.”

“We will remain steadfast as we continue the fight to uphold reproductive justice in the United States,” Ms. Helian said.

 Be that as it may, the Satanists aren’t necessarily doing any favors for the pro-choice movement by handing pro-life advocates a gift-wrapped talking point.

Shawn Carney, CEO and president of 40 Days for Life, called the Satanic Temple’s plan “a bad business model, a horrific optic, and a loser for those who support abortion.”

“We have worked with 247 abortion workers who have left their jobs and are currently working with those still doing abortions — none of them want to be associated with Satanic Temples,” said Mr. Carney in an email.

Founded in 2012, the Satanic Temple describes itself as an “atheistic religious corporation” that does not worship the devil, but rather “confronts religious discrimination to secure the separation of church and state and defend the Constitutional rights of its members.”

The group, known for demanding equal access to government-sponsored holiday displays and after-school programs, jumped into the abortion fight by arguing that its “abortion ritual” is protected under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

The Satanic Temple gained tax-exempt church status in 2019. The group has filed lawsuits to block abortion restrictions in Missouri and Texas, so far without success.

The ritual consists of reciting the Third Tenet and Fifth Tenet of the Satanic Temple while taking the two pills used to terminate pregnancies, followed by the “personal affirmation,” which states: “By my body, my blood, by my will it is done.”

The group has named its telehealth facility “The Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic,” a morbid swipe at the Supreme Court justice who wrote the majority opinion last year in Dobbs v. Jackson overturning Roe v. Wade.

“In 1950, Samuel Alito’s mother did not have options, and look what happened,” said Satanic Temple co-founder Malcolm Jarry in a statement. “Prior to 1973, doctors who performed abortions could lose their licenses and go to jail. The clinic’s name serves to remind people just how important it is to have the right to control one’s body and the potential ramifications of losing that right.”

The Satanic Temple is not alone in choosing New Mexico, which has become a hub of abortion activity since Dobbs returned decision-making on the procedure to the states.

New Mexico has no gestational limits on abortions. What’s more, it borders Texas, a high-population state that has banned most procedures in the wake of Roe.

Last year, Ms. Grisham dedicated $10 million to build an abortion clinic in Dona Ana County near the Texas border. Whole Women’s Health has moved from Austin to Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

Jackson Women’s Health of Mississippi, the defendant in Dobbs v. Jackson, also relocated to Las Cruces.

At this point, however, Mr. Carney said the supply may have overtaken the demand.

“The abortion industry, woke CEOs, politicians, and New Mexico are all dramatically overestimating how many women will travel for an abortion,” Mr. Carney said. “New Mexico is overbuilding abortion facilities, with the Satanists now joining in.”

At least two pro-life pregnancy centers, which provide free services such as ultrasounds, pregnancy tests and parenting classes, are also operating in Las Cruces.

Ms. Helian said the Satanic Temple wants to expand its telehealth abortion service to other states, “including those that do not allow clinicians to perform abortions.”

“TST is proud to expand reproductive options for our members,” Ms. Helian said. “This is just the beginning.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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