The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Massachusetts, has filed a lawsuit against the state of Indiana over a new abortion ban that has been codified into law. Satanists are making a string of claims about the impact such restrictions have on women — as well as Satanists’ general religious freedom rights.
Indiana’s new law precludes abortions outside of cases threatening the life or long-term health of the mother, fetal abnormalities, or in matters of rape or incest.
W. James MacNaughton, an attorney for The Satanic Temple, told WISH-TV women should retain control over what happens with their pregnancies, citing property rights in making his case.
“Because you own, in the property sense, your uterus then you have the right to control its disposition as a matter of property law,” MacNaughton told the outlet.
The lawsuit itself builds off this premise, assigning no human value to the unborn.
“All of the involuntarily pregnant women who are (temple) members believe the fetal tissue they carry in their uterus – from conception until viability – is part of their body and not imbued with any humanity or existence,” the complaint reads, in part.
The document later proclaims, “The property right of an Involuntarily Pregnant Woman to exclude or remove a Protected Unborn Child from her uterus cannot be taken by the State of Indiana without just compensation pursuant to the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
The Satanic Temple filed its lawsuit Sept. 21 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, with the document focusing on “involuntarily pregnant” women who experience failures with birth control.
One of the most controversial elements of the lawsuit is the claim the abortion ban is a violation of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, with The Satanic Temple reportedly claiming its “Satanic abortion ritual” is disallowed and, thus, arguing the ban runs afoul of religious freedom measures.
“When a member of TST has an unwanted pregnancy, she exercises her religious beliefs as expressions of Tenets III and V by engaging in the Satanic Abortion Ritual,” the lawsuit reads. “The Indiana Abortion Ban effectively prohibits the exercise of the Satanic Abortion Ritual.”
The lawsuit includes information on The Satanic Temple’s “Satanic Abortion Ritual,” which is essentially advice on how to help free oneself from any judgment and to find affirmation in the abortion process.
“The Satanic abortion ritual provides spiritual comfort and affirms bodily autonomy, self-worth, and freedom from coercive forces with the affirmation of TST’s Seven Tenets,” a description reads. “The ritual is not intended to convince a person to have an abortion. Instead, it sanctifies the abortion process by instilling confidence and protecting bodily rights when undergoing the safe and scientific procedure.”
You can read more about that process here.
“Compensation” and servitude are also themes in the complaint, with WISH-TV reporting that the group argues an abortion ban violates constitutional rights, including the Thirteenth Amendment.
The text of that amendment reads, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
MacNaughton addressed this issue of compensation and servitude in his interview with WISH-TV.
“You provide it with blood, you provide it with oxygen, warmth, nutrients, hormones, but you’re not getting paid for it,” MacNaughton said of the unborn. “That is involuntary servitude.”
Beyond that, MacNaughton focused on the supposedly religious elements underpinning the ban on abortion. He charged the government with adopting “a religious standard for medical care” and said the idea that “human life begins at conception” is religious in nature.
“It’s the exercise of a religious belief that a fetus or an embryo is not an individual human being separate in part from the mother but simply a part of your body,” he said. “And if it is an unwanted part of your body, you have to exclude it. You have to remove it.”
But a spokesperson for Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita released a statement Tuesday noting the U.S. Supreme Court, after overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this year, determined abortion isn’t a protected right.
“This new lawsuit merely offers weaker arguments for the same discredited right,” the spokesperson said, according to the Indy Star.
The Satanic Temple makes an important distinction about its beliefs in the complaint, noting it “venerates, but does not worship, the allegorical Satan.”
Thus, the organization falls under what some might call “atheistic Satanism.”
CBN’s Faithwire recently published an in-depth explainer on the various beliefs and camps underneath the Satanism umbrella. You can read that here.
Reporting from Faith Wire.