Salem Satanic Temple slams Texas abortion law, says members need access to pills

Satanic Temple's attorneys contended that its status as a non-theistic religious organization should ensure access to abortion as faith-based right


                            Salem Satanic Temple slams Texas abortion law, says members need access to pills
The Satanic Temple has joined the battle against Texas' new abortion law (tInstagram/@thesatanictemple)
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Texas’ controversial new abortion law has faced a lot of flak from feminist groups, pro-choice organizations, sexual health activists and more. But also among those outraging against this restrictive misogynistic law is a group of Satanists.

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The law, SB 8, practically bans abortion after six weeks — or at least as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It went into effect this week, with the passive assent of the US Supreme Court. SB 8 permits “any person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state” to file a lawsuit against an abortion provider or anyone who “aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” 

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As per a Vox report, so-called “heartbeat bills” like Texas’ are not new. At least eight have been passed in recent years, with a raft of states enacting the bans in 2019. These bills are reportedly based on model legislation written by Faith2Action, a right-wing Christian group that bills itself as “the nation’s largest network of pro-family groups.” The group states, “while not the beginning of life, the heartbeat is the universally recognized indicator of life.” 

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The Satanic Temple, a religious group based in Salem, Massachusetts, has joined the legal battle to block or overturn Texas' abortion law. The Satanic Temple is an IRS-recognized atheist church that has around 300,000 members. The group filed a letter with the US Food and Drug Administration arguing that its Texas members should have legal access to abortion pills. The group's attorneys contended that its status as a non-theistic religious organization should ensure access to abortion as a faith-based right.

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On its website, the group wrote, “Normally, access to Misoprostol (a first-trimester abortifacient) requires a prescription, and Mifepristone (the second drug in the medical abortion regimen) can only be obtained through an approved prescriber and can only be dispensed in accordance with specific guidelines. However, TST has requested that we can directly supply Satanists who wish to undergo an abortion in a religious context with these abortifacients.”

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The group said that it has “every desire to ensure the health and safety of its membership,” adding, “we must accept the fact that traditional efforts to protect reproductive rights have failed. Religions have special privileges under the First Amendment and RFRA (The Religious Freedom Restoration Act). The Satanic Temple is utilizing these privileges to protect our religious belief in bodily autonomy — we’re taking our fight to the next level.”

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The religious body also announced that it will launch its own religious family planning counseling services in place of state-required counseling services that patients must receive prior to an abortion. “Due to the religious protections under US law, those who utilize our counseling services should be exempt from complying with other mandated abortion restrictions, such as waiting periods, receiving unscientific information and reading materials, and compulsory sonograms that serve no medical purpose,” its statement said. “These restrictions unnecessarily inhibit a patient’s access to the procedure with no beneficial health outcome.”

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The counseling services, the Temple said, are designed to provide accurate information about abortion and provide religious emotional support, adding that the counseling service will be “rooted in providing the best available scientific research about the relative safety of the procedure and an affirmation of our beliefs in bodily autonomy and scientifically-reasoned personal choice.”

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“I am sure Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who famously spends a good deal of his time composing press releases about Religious Liberty issues in other states — will be proud to see that Texas’s robust Religious Liberty laws, which he so vociferously champions, will prevent future Abortion Rituals from being interrupted by superfluous government restrictions meant only to shame and harass those seeking an abortion," said Lucien Greaves, the Temple's spokesman, and co-founder, in a statement.

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“The battle for abortion rights is largely a battle of competing religious viewpoints, and our viewpoint that the nonviable fetus is part of the impregnated host is fortunately protected under Religous Liberty laws,” Greaves added.