Satanic Temple takes aim at Idaho and Indiana abortion bans

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BOISE, Idaho — Religious organizations have long been embroiled in the debate over Idaho’s strict abortion laws, with Catholic priests, evangelical Christian groups and others frequently lobbying lawmakers and filing briefs legal arguments in favor of prohibiting abortion.

Now the satanic temple also weighs. The Salem, Mass.-based group, which does not believe in a literal Satan but describes itself as a “non-theistic religious organization,” sued Idaho in federal court late last week, claiming the the state’s abortion bans infringe on the rights of members who might want to perform the temple’s “abortion ritual.”

“Our members have a sincere religious belief that they can and should have abortions,” W. James Mac Naughton, the attorney representing The Satanic Temple, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. The organization filed similar lawsuits in Indiana last month and in Texas last year, and Mac Naughton said he wouldn’t rule out filing additional lawsuits in other states.

Forcing people to conform to one religious belief – that life begins at conception – and denying them the right to practice another – that everyone has the right to control their own body – violates religious freedom, he said. -he declares.

“Abortion is quite a sensitive issue as it stands, but it is inextricably linked to religious beliefs,” Mac Naughton said.

The Satanic Temple, dubbed TST in the lawsuit, is separate from the Church of Satan, which was founded in the 1960s. Founded in 2013, the Satanic Temple advocates secularism and views Satan as a literary figure that serves as a metaphor for defend personal sovereignty against religious authority.

Satanic Temple religious tenets include beliefs that people should have control over their own bodies, that the freedoms of others should be respected, and that scientific facts should not be twisted to match their personal beliefs.

The organization also has something it calls a “Satanic Abortion Ritual,” which includes the process of a person remembering that their body is inviolate, undergoing the abortion, and then reciting a personal affirmation.

In the lawsuit, the organization claims that some of its members in Idaho are “involuntarily pregnant women.” Every woman has a right of ownership to her own womb, the organization said, and that right – including the ability to remove a “protected unborn child” from the womb – cannot be legally taken by the state without compensation.

The temple also argues that Idaho subjects unwitting pregnant women to involuntary servitude by forcing them to provide an embryo or fetus with oxygen, nutrients, antibodies, body heat and other services, during gestation. Finally, the organization claims that the state wrongly discriminates against many pregnant women by only allowing abortion for those who have been victims of rape or incest, and not allowing it for people who have become accidentally pregnant. .

Spokesman for Idaho Attorney General Scott Graf declined to comment on the lawsuit because the office has a policy of not commenting on ongoing litigation.

At least 21 states, including Idaho, Indiana and Florida, have enacted laws prohibiting overriding government interference with religious freedom, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The laws are not identical, but they frequently state that governments cannot interfere with an individual’s ability to exercise religious freedom without a compelling government interest. Where there is a compelling reason, the interference with the person’s religious freedom should be carried out in the least restrictive manner.

However, spiritual beliefs surrounding abortion and other reproductive health issues are often nuanced, even within individual religious groups. The ACLU also sued in Indiana last month, saying the abortion ban violates Jewish theological teachings as well as theology permitting abortions in certain circumstances by the Islamic, Episcopal, Unitarian Universalist and Pagan religions.

In June, a synagogue filed a lawsuit against Florida’s law banning many abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation, claiming the law prohibited Jewish women from practicing their religion without government intrusion.

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