The Satanic Temple launched its Religious Reproductive Rights campaign Wednesday, declaring abortion as a sacred "religious ritual" in an attempt to circumvent state regulations on abortion by exerting religious freedom protections.
In a video posted on YouTube as part of its campaign, the Satanic Temple, which is now recognized by the IRS as a religious organization, explains how it plans to use state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in their favor so women seeking abortions can forego counseling, avoid seeing the sonogram image of their baby or hearing its heartbeat, and refuse to have their baby's remains cremate or buried.
The video begins by stating that the U.S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act “generally prohibits the government from interfering with a person’s free exercise of religion,” including “the performance of religious rituals.” The Satanic Temple proclaims that its religious rituals include abortion, which it says “provides spiritual comfort and affirms bodily autonomy and self-worth.”
“Within the states that have enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, religiously performed abortions are exempt from legal requirements that are not medically necessary,” The Satanic Temple contends in the video. The group added that it "will do all it can to assure that states protect the religious rights of our members to obtain first-trimester abortions on demand,” consistent with the view that “thy self is thy master.”
Jane Essex, the spokesperson for the Satanic Temple’s Religious Reproductive Rights Campaign, addressed questions, first answering how “existing regulations” interfere with the satanic abortion ritual. Essex listed “mandatory counseling, being forced to listen to fetal heartbeats (and) waiting periods before you can even have the abortion” as examples of regulations that she claims “serve no medical purpose.”
“All these obstacles violate deeply held beliefs and this disrupts the practice of our rituals,” Essex said, arguing that the Satanic Temple's abortion ritual is comparable to rituals practiced by billions of adherents to major religions.
“It would be unconstitutional to require a waiting period before receiving Holy Communion; it would be illegal to demand Muslims receive counseling prior to Ramadan,” she argued. “We expect the same rights as any other religious organization."
Essex explained that to circumvent state regulations on abortion, the Satanic Temple has put together a letter women can take with them to the abortion clinic that states their demands to forego counseling, a sonogram, hearing the baby's heartbeat, and refusal to have their baby's remains cremate or buried. Doing any of the aforementioned, according to the letter, would "interfere" with their religious beliefs and practices.
The letter also states that during the abortion procedure, the woman is to disregard any doubts she has and instead recite aloud by memory the Satanic Temple's third and fifth tenets. After the abortion, the woman is to recite the words: "By my body, my blood; by my will, it is done."
Essex claims that the satanic ritual and reciting the tenets aloud will help women feel empowered and "confident" and allay any regrets that they have.
As part of the Satanic Temple's Reproductive Rights Campaign, it's holding an online fundraiser and raffle to raise $100,000 to "mobilize legal operations in order to protect religious abortions from unwarranted government interference."
Those who donate $200 will be entered to win the "grand prize," a free abortion up to $2,500 toward a late-term termination. Donors are also encouraged to make donations in the amounts of $66 or $666.
Essex vowed that the Satanic Temple would take legal action against any medical provider or abortion facility that denies any of their members’ requests to participate in their so-called abortion ritual. These demands stipulate that they be exempt from abortion clinics' own minimum requirements, which includes a few minutes of so-called counseling in which a clinic employee asks a woman if she's certain she wants to go through with the abortion and if she's being coerced into it.
Essex also contended that the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision — which ruled that privately-owned businesses were exempt from Obamacare’s HHS requirement to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs — set a legal precedent that would enable the Satanic Temple to be exempt from abortion regulations based on their religious beliefs.
The Satanic Temple is known for taking legal action against state regulations on abortions.
Last year, they sued the state of Missouri over a pro-life law requiring women to read literature declaring that “the life of each human being begins at conception.” The organization failed to prevail, as both the Missouri Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit.
In 2016, they also claimed that a Texas regulation requiring abortion providers to either bury or cremate babies killed by abortion violated their religious beliefs because it promoted the idea of "fetal personhood."