Satanic Temple's abortion lawsuit advances to Missouri Supreme Court

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)Pro-choice protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 2, 2016.

A lawsuit filed by a member of The Satanic Temple to challenge Missouri's abortion law requiring a 72-hour waiting period has been transferred to the state Supreme Court.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, identified as Mary Doe in court documents, is seeking a "religious exemption" from a state law that requires pregnant women to wait 72 hours to obtain an abortion following an ultrasound. The law also requires women to sign a form pledging that they have read a booklet that includes the line, "[t]he life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

Doe argued that the prerequisites for abortion in Missouri are unconstitutionally violating her religious freedom because her religion does not adhere to the idea that life begins at conception.

Last Tuesday, Western District Court of Appeals ruled in Doe's favor, arguing that her constitutional challenge presented "a contested matter of right that involves fair doubt and reasonable room for disagreement." The court ordered for the woman's lawsuit to be transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court, according to The Kansas City Star.

Doe underwent an abortion in May 2015 in St. Louis after complying with the state's informed consent law.

Her lawsuit was dismissed in August 2016 after a federal judge concluded that she did not have standing because she was no longer pregnant, and did not present the court with evidence of a "threatened injury that is certainly impending and that any future injury is particular and concrete."

Doe's case was also turned down at the state level after Cole County Judge Joe Beteem ruled that she had failed to "state a claim for relief under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act."

The Satanic Temple decided to appeal both cases, and the appeals court ruled last Tuesday that the case should be heard.

The Western District Court noted that the case would be the first of its kind to be heard by either the Missouri Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court. Defendants in the case include Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Josh Hawley and others.

"Neither the Missouri Supreme Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court has considered whether a Booklet of this nature, an Ultrasound, an Audible Heartbeat Offer, and a seventy-two-hour Waiting Period violate the Religion Clause rights of pregnant women," the appeals court wrote.

The Satanic Temple, which is also a plaintiff in a similar case in federal court, contends that it is a religious group, although it maintains that it is "non-theistic" and believes that the devil is only a metaphor and a "symbol of the eternal rebel."

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