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Satanists Claim Religious Exemption from Missouri Abortion Laws

Missouri Satanists think they have Christian conservatives over a barrel with their claim that one of their members should get a religious liberty exemption from Missouri’s mandated waiting period before getting an abortion.

A Satanist named “Mary” says Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period for an abortion violates her “sincerely held religious beliefs” that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone,” and “we should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.”

According to her crowdfunding page, “I regard a waiting period as a state sanctioned attempt to discourage abortion by instilling an unnecessary burden as part of the process to obtain this medical procedure. The waiting period interferes with the inviolability of my body and thereby imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Religious liberty is a claim that individuals and businesses may make in court that a government law places a substantial burden on their sincerely held religious beliefs and the practices that flow from it. Making the claim does not ensure victory, however. The government must show a compelling reason to burden the person’s religious practice and that the law is the least restrictive means to achieve the desired end.

Amanda Marcotte at Slate is cheering on the Satanists: “Conservatives are increasingly citing their right to religious liberty to defend using state property to proselytize and disobey laws protecting women and LGBTQ people from discrimination. But those efforts are getting a little more complicated, thanks to a group of pranksters who claim to worship Satan.” She says the effort “exposes the double standards of those who claim to stand for ‘religious freedom.’”

Religious freedom lawyer David French, writing at National Review, says:

First, there is nothing “complicated” about the Satanists’ claim, and there is no double standard. Religious liberty case law is littered with examples of fringe religions seeking religious exemptions from various state laws and regulations. Sometimes they win. Often they lose. I suspect this effort — if it ever gets to court – would stumble on the state’s acknowledged interest in protecting what the Supreme Court has called the “potential life” of even non-viable unborn children.

He says, “Yet even if the Satanists win, there would be something . . . incredibly appropriate about the pro-abortion Left wrapping its arms around Satan in the quest to preserve abortion on demand.”

Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse.

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