Jul 28 5:45 PM

Satanic Temple wants religious exemption from anti-abortion laws

exam room
The Satanic Temple hopes to use the Hobby Lobby exemption to keep 'medically invalid' away from patients.
Dirk Lammers / AP

An organization known as the Satanic Temple says the controversial Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision allows it to invoke a religious exemption from state-mandated informed consent laws on abortion, which it says result in the distribution of "scientifically unfounded" and "medically invalid" materials to women.

The group, which says it does not promote a belief in a "personal Satan" but rather "embraces rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions," says states that require abortion providers to give their patients materials on the procedure do so in many cases as a "bald effort at dissuading them from abortions."

The Satanic Temple says, in an “affront” to its religious beliefs, some of the materials distributed to patients by states have included mention of links between abortion and breast cancer and post-abortion syndrome, both of which the group says are unsubstantiated by the evidence.

The organization has put together a letter for women considering an abortion to present to their health care provider expressing the belief that the abortion materials and counseling being presented are motivated by politics and not science. Laws requiring women to receive pre-procedure counseling are currently on the books in 35 states.

Part of the letter reads as follows:

I regard any information required by state statute to be communicated or offered to me as a precondition for an abortion (separate and apart from any other medical procedure) is based on politics and not science ("Political Information"). I regard Political Information as a state sanctioned attempt to discourage abortion by compelling my consideration of the current and future condition of my fetal or embryonic tissue separate and apart from my body. I do not regard Political Information to be scientifically true or accurate or even relevant to my medical decisions. The communication of Political Information to me imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my religious beliefs.

Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said he believes the Hobby Lobby decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that companies with a religious objection could avoid the contraceptive coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act, gives a boost to his organization’s case for an exemption.

“The Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when they allowed Hobby Lobby to claim certain contraceptives were abortifacients, when in fact they are not, “ said Greaves. “Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state-mandated ‘informational’ material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them.”

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