The Satanic Temple has what it calls an “abortion ritual” — and it’s now suing the state of Texas for the right to perform this “religious” ceremony unimpeded.
Filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division on behalf of Satanic Temple member “Ann Doe,” the suit alleges that “certain state-mandated abortion regulations violate the religious liberty of its members,” reports the Dallas Observer. “They say regulations, such as those that require women seeking an abortion to undergo a sonogram and examine the results, read about abortion and sit-out a mandatory waiting period, violate the temple’s religious teachings.”
“It’s legal to get an abortion in Texas,” the site continues. “But the procedure is banned after 20 weeks unless a life-threatening medical condition is involved or the fetus has a severe abnormality. If a person is eligible, the state requires them to get a sonogram and receive paperwork about medical risks, adoption alternatives and developmental stages of the fetus.”
“The state then requires a woman to wait 24 hours after receiving the sonogram and paperwork before she can go through with the abortion,” the Observer further informs. “The day-long wait is not required if for those who live 100 miles or more away from the nearest abortion provider.”
The Satanic Temple claims that these restrictions interfere with its “abortion ritual,” which it says Ann Doe performed. At its website (no, I won’t provide the link), it calls the ritual “a ceremonial affirmation of self-worth and bodily autonomy that integrates the abortive process.”
Prior to filing its suit, the Satanic Temple’s attorney had “sent a letter to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission” demanding “an exemption from the abortion restrictions on behalf of Ann Doe,” the group’s website also relates.
The “requirements are a precondition to Ms. Doe’s ability to participate in a religious ceremony,” the group further claims. “It is a substantial interference per se for the state to place a regulatory hurdle — one that costs money — in front of a religious exercise. The state might as well tax and regulate Mass.” (Actually, it had already regulated Mass, at least on a temporary basis, via COVID-19 restrictions.)
As for the “abortion ritual,” the Satanic Temple writes that it “(1) requires an abortion; and (2) affirms her [the mother’s] religious subscription to TST’s [The Satanic Temple’s] Third and Fifth Tenets.” These tenets state, respectively, “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. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.”
When performing the ritual, a Satanic Temple member “will look at her reflection, be reminded of her personhood and responsibility to herself, take deep breaths, focus on her intent and make herself comfortable,” writes the Observer. “When ready, she will say the third and fifth tenet of the temple aloud.”
After the baby is killed, the Satanic Temple member “would return to her reflection and cite her personal affirmation: ‘By my body, my blood. By my will, it is done,’” the Observer also relates.
The Satanic Temple had filed two lawsuits in Missouri in recent years that were similar to its Texas effort and had lost. Yet the group’s co-founder and spokesman Lucien Greaves claims that “it wouldn’t be accurate to say we lost in a way that would have challenged the legitimacy of our legal arguments.”
While I don’t know if this is accurate, there are, lamentably, dark parallels between the Satanic Temple’s beliefs and mainstream prenatal infanticide advocates — and our law itself.
Consider that the Satanic Temple emphasizes the woman’s will, “By my will, it is done,” while prenatal infanticide advocates proclaim “My body, my choice!” — even when that choice is murder. But since a “choice” is made via exercise of will, “pro-choice” is another way of saying “pro-my will.”
Then consider our schizophrenic prenatal infanticide law. A man may be charged with a double-murder if he kills a pregnant woman. Yet if that woman had lived and decided to kill her unborn baby, it would be considered her right and might be called “termination of an unviable tissue mass.”
This irrationality isn’t hard to understand: Much as with the antebellum constitutional provision deeming a slave three-fifths of a person, our prenatal infanticide laws reflect political compromise, not moral principle. And compromise often leads to contradiction. For rightness and rationality aren’t determined by majority vote.
The point, however, is that our law also deifies the woman’s will. When she’s with child and wants the baby, he’s considered human and wholly inviolable; when she doesn’t, he’s considered something subhuman (like a slave) that can be discarded. Her will be done. Thus is “deifies” not too strong a word, for such power over life and death is to be reserved to God.
But transferring it to man is a Satanic Temple goal. “Thyself is Thy Master. Hail Satan!” is the group’s apparent motto, prominently displayed on its website. Oh, the Satanic Temple claims to be “non-theistic” and thus, ostensibly, considers Satan a sort of metaphor. It’s said, however, that the “Devil’s cleverest wile is to convince us he doesn’t exist.”
For being “thy own master” may suffice to advance evil. As we sometimes learn in life if touched by wisdom, after all, following our own will invites disaster. This is often because when we do so, we’re not actually following our will — it’s just that we’re not following God’s, either.