July 7, 2023

US District Court Rejects Satanic Temple's Challenge to Texas Abortion Law

This week, the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas rejected a lawsuit by The Satanic Temple challenging pro-life informed consent laws on religious grounds.

The temple's complaint argued that pro-life laws infringed upon the religious freedom rights of Satanists who believe abortion is a religious ritual. The laws in question include a waiting-period law and a law that requires pregnant mothers to be given the opportunity to hear the baby's heartbeat and see the baby's ultrasound image.

“SB 8’s ban on abortions after six weeks infringes upon our members’ rights to engage with their chosen religion and to participate in religious rites and rituals,” the Satanic Temple’s Director of Campaign Operations, Erin Helian, claimed in a statement when they filed the amended lawsuit. “In accordance with our Third Tenet, The Satanic Temple will push back against the Texas legislature’s violation of our members’ bodily autonomy and freedom of choice.”

The court described the lawsuit as "cryptic" and noted that the challenge lacked basic facts about the plaintiff "Ann Doe's" legal standing to sue.

This case bears a resemblance to a separate challenge by pro-abortion groups challenging Indiana's pro-life law protecting children from abortion at all gestational ages. Rather than the First Amendment, the Indiana challenge invokes Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act; arguing that the pro-life law oppresses religions that allow abortion.