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Politics

The Satanic Temple Sues Texas Over Abortion Regulations It Argues Infringe On Members' Religious Beliefs

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Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

An anonymous member of The Satanic Temple, which is a self-described national atheistic religious group based in Massachusetts, recently sued Texas health officials in federal court.

The plaintiff, who according to the lawsuit lives “at least 100 miles from the nearest abortion clinic” in Houston, is challenging the state’s mandatory sonogram requirement for an abortion, as well as the mandatory 24-hour waiting period following the sonogram.

Lucien Greaves, the co-founder and spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, said the state’s regulations “interrupt” the group’s own ritual for women who receive abortions, which he said is akin to a ritualized counseling process aimed at eliminating shame and guilt for the person receiving the procedure.

“It’s something that’s an affirmation and meant to make somebody feel comfortable and secure with their decision,” he said.

Greaves said the state’s laws also run afoul of two of The Satanic Temple’s seven tenets, which include that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone,” and “beliefs should conform to one's best scientific understanding of the world [and] one should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one's beliefs.”

Greaves said the state’s required sonograms, which he believes are medically unnecessary, are "an imposition upon [The Satanic Temple's] religious liberty and religious practice.”

The group, which in the lawsuit describes itself as “a nontheistic branch of Satanism,” has also filed lawsuits in Missouri challenging its abortion restrictions.

Many of the group’s lawsuits are religious liberty challenges that take aim at laws that it argues impose Christian beliefs.

The lawsuit was filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division against the Texas Department of State Health Services as well as the commissioner of the agency, John Hellerstedt.

Greaves said if courts take the case, they will have to choose between “upholding the religious liberty that Christian nationalists have fought for” and “being openly hypocritical” by upholding laws that reflect one specific religious viewpoint.

“It’s hard to say how this will play out,” he said.

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