Satanic Temple launches telehealth clinic for 'religious abortion ritual'
The Satanic Temple, an organization that claims abortion bans violate religious freedom, has announced plans to operate a telehealth abortion clinic in New Mexico.
"TST Health's online clinic was launched to protect the bodily autonomy of our members. As part of our commitment to protecting our members' civil rights and ensuring that our religious rituals can be performed without government interference, the clinic represents one of the most important steps we have taken," the group wrote in a statement.
"TST Health's first telehealth clinic will provide medication for safe abortions through the mail for members and for those who wish to perform TST's Abortion Ritual. The goal of this first clinic is to allow our members to have access to safe and legal abortions, no matter where they live or what their financial situation may be."
According to a news release, the clinic will be named "The Samuel Alito's Mom's Satanic Abortion Clinic," referring to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Alito, who authored the 2022 decision ruling that the U.S. Constitution doesn't contain a right to abortion.
"In 1950, Samuel Alito's mother did not have options, and look what happened," TST co-founder Malcolm Jarry said in a statement. "Prior to 1973, doctors who performed abortions could lose their licenses and go to jail. The clinic's name serves to remind people just how important it is to have the right to control one's body and the potential ramifications of losing that right."
Following the U.S. Supreme Court's overturn of Roe v. Wade this summer, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, several states issued bans or severe restrictions on the practice. TST has filed lawsuits in several states seeking to overturn abortion bans or restrictions.
The nontheistic religious organization promoted its plans to operate a telehealth clinic in a Wednesday tweet, writing that it's "proud" to announce the launch of a "religious telehealth clinic." According to the group, the clinic will offer discrete "medical abortion care."
In addition to providing telehealth abortions in New Mexico, TST's website reveals that the organization plans to offer information and travel assistance for those outside of New Mexico seeking an abortion.
TST argues that abortion bans "impede [their] faith in bodily autonomy" and their ability to perform a "religious abortion ritual," which the organization claims is a violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
TST did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.
According to TST, anyone in New Mexico seeking to perform "The Satanic Temple's
abortion ritual" can "receive free online medical services."
"Patients undergo a confidential screening and virtual appointment before having their prescriptions sent to the clinic's pharmacy partner, who will mail the medications in a discreet package," the statement reads.
As CP reported, the group made similar claims following the passage of the 2021 Texas heartbeat bill, which banned most abortions in the state after six weeks gestation. TST argued that the law infringes on the group's religious freedom by imposing an "undue burden" on its "satanic abortion ritual."
"The Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA) provides a mechanism to seek an exemption from any law that restricts the free exercise of religion. Because S.B. 8 imposes an undue burden on the ability of TST members to undergo the Satanic Abortion Ritual, the first step in defending the rights of its members is to seek an exemption under TRFRA. If the state declines to provide such an exemption, TST can then seek judicial relief from the law," the organization stated.
In a letter at the time to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Matthew A. Kezhaya, a TST attorney, asked for a religious exemption to access the abortion-inducing drugs mifepristone and misoprostol without a prescription as part of its "sacramental" abortion ritual.
"TST's membership uses these products in a sacramental setting. The Satanic Abortion Ritual is a sacrament which surrounds and includes the abortive act. It is designed to combat feelings of guilt, doubt, and shame and to empower the member to assert or reassert power and control over their own mind and body. The REMS prescription requirement substantially interferes with the Satanic Abortion Ritual because the Government impedes the members' access to the medication involved in the ritual," the letter noted.
Monica Snyder, who serves as the executive director of Secular Pro-Life, an organization comprised of atheists and agnostics, previously told CP that believing a zygote is the first stage of life for a human organism "is not a religious belief."
"It's a biological fact," she said. "You don't need to be religious to recognize biological facts, and you don't need to be religious to believe all humans are morally valuable."
Snyder said that while freedom of religion is important, it doesn't justify a human rights violation like abortion. Kelsey Hazzard, an atheist attorney and the founder of Secular Pro-Life, agreed with Snyder.
"Religious freedom has its limits, and the death of a child lies beyond that limit," she wrote in a separate statement to CP. "The American legal system has encountered an analogous issue: may Jehovah's Witnesses condemn their medically fragile sons and daughters to death because they believe that blood transfusions are sinful?"
"No one doubts the sincerity of that religious belief, but the answer is no: the child's right to life takes precedence," Hazzard continued. "Likewise, the right to life must take precedence over religious, unscientific beliefs about ensoulment at birth."
Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com. Follower her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman