A Satanist group is using the Hobby Lobby ruling to campaign for a religious exemption to anti-choice abortion laws.
The Satanic Temple (TST) is a religious group that "believes that the body is inviolable subject to one’s own will alone" and encourages making personal health decisions "based on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others.” The group launched a campaign Monday on behalf of a woman's right to accurate medical information and cited the Hobby Lobby ruling as bolstering this position.
Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned arts and crafts store based in Oklahoma, filed a lawsuit in 2012 due to a stipulation in President Obama's Affordable Care Act which required employer-provided health insurance to cover contraceptives. Hobby Lobby disagreed with this on the basis that certain contraceptives could be abortive and argued the law violates religious freedom. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that some closely held, for-profit corporations could be exempt from providing contraception coverage to employees on the basis of religious beliefs.
"Any suggestion that for-profit corporations are incapable of exercising religion because their purpose is simply to make money flies in the face of modern corporate law," the court's ruling said. Requiring religious corporations to cover contraception "demands that they engage in conduct that seriously violates their religious beliefs," the ruling also stated.
TST says that same ruling can apply to "informed consent" laws.
Informed consent documents are distributed to patients before surgical and aesthetic procedures so the patients will know what these procedures entail and what to expect from them. In terms of abortions, informed consent docs list the types of abortion procedures, complications and risks.
Here is TST's objection to the dissemination of information that could potentially discourage a woman from obtaining an abortion:
Informed consent bills requiring abortion providers to give their patients official “informational” material regarding the procedure have been criticized in the past for providing biased and false information to women in a bald effort at dissuading them from abortions. Such materials have included claims of a link between abortion and breast cancer, as well as claims regarding a depressive “postabortion syndrome”, both of which The Satanic Temple view as “scientifically unfounded” and “medically invalid” and therefore an affront to their religious beliefs.
Currently, 35 states require that women receive "informational" abortion counseling before terminating a pregnancy. This can include written materials with statements about the fetus's ability to feel pain, erroneous links between abortion and increased breast cancer risks and supposed psychological responses to abortion.
TST considers this misleading and believes the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters the temple's goal for religious exemption.
“While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact," TST spokesperson Lucien Greaves said in a press release. "This was made clear when they allowed Hobby Lobby to claim certain contraceptives were abortifacients, when in fact they are not. Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our 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.”
On TST's website, the group provides a printable letter that women can give their health care providers to opt out of informed consent, stating that such a precondition is "based on politics and not science" and that it is against the Satanic religion.
The letter lists specific principles that allow TST's campaign to fall under the category of religious exemption:
• My body is inviolable and subject to my will alone.
• I make any decision regarding my health based on the best scientific understanding of the world, even if the science does not comport with the religious or political beliefs of others.
• My inviolable body includes any fetal or embryonic tissue I carry so long as that tissue is unable to survive outside my body as an independent human being.
• I, and I alone, decide whether my inviolable body remains pregnant and I may, in good conscience, disregard the current or future condition of any fetal or embryonic tissue I carry in making that decision.
Last year, TST made headlines for performing a "pink mass" ritual over the grave of Catherine Idalette Johnston, the mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, supposedly turning her gay for all eternity. Earlier this year, the group was back in the news after commissioning a seven-foot statue of Satan to be placed at the Oklahoma state Capitol, where a Ten Commandments monument was erected in 2012.