Court dismisses Satanist challenge to abortion law over informed consent booklet

by Jordyn Pair · Jun 12th, 2020 9:16 am

A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit from a member of the Satanic Temple over a Missouri abortion law that requires abortion clinics to give women booklets about their abortion and the conception of life.

"Judy Doe" claimed in the lawsuit — dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in a 3-0 decision on Tuesday — that a state law requiring abortion clinics to present women with a booklet that states life begins at conception violates her religious beliefs.

The booklet is presented as part of Missouri's informed consent practices and says that "life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being." Although the law requires a clinic give women the booklet, they are not required to read it.

Doe said that requiring the booklet be presented violated her religious beliefs as a Satanist, as well as the Establishment clause of the First Amendment.

The court ruled that the Missouri law is constitutional because "a state does not establish religion by passing a law that just happens to coincide or harmonize with the tenets of some or all religions."

Doe argued that being presented with the booklet violated her belief that "any law that serves no medical purpose or purports to protect the interests of her Human Tissue" should be "without limitation." Under her belief, the fetus is considered to be part of her "Human Tissue."

The court noted that states have a role in determining when life begins and courts have previously recognized that informed-consent laws like Missouri's reduce the risk a woman obtains an abortion while not fully informed.


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