Another surprising act of public service from the Satanic Temple.
This article originally appeared on 12.30.20.
In some states, women are put through humiliating and dangerous pre-abortion medical consultations and waiting periods before being allowed to undergo the procedure. In four states, women are even forced to bury or cremate the fetal remains after the procedure.
These government-mandated roadblocks and punitive shaming serve no purpose but to make it more difficult, emotionally damaging, and expensive for women to have an abortion.
Eighteen states currently have laws that force women to delay their abortions unnecessarily: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In a number of other states, mandatory-delay laws have been enacted but are enjoined or otherwise unenforced.
To help women get around these burdensome regulations, The Satanic Temple is promoting a religious ritual it believes provides an exemption from restrictions. According to the Temple, the ritual is supported by the federal Religious Freedoms Restoration Act.
GIF from media3.giphy.com.
The Temple is a religious organization that claims it doesn't believe "in the existence of Satan or the supernatural" but that "religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition."
The Temple says its exemption is made possible by a precedent set by the Supreme Court's 2014 Hobby Lobby decision. According to the Temple, it prevents the government from putting a "burden on free exercise of religion without a compelling reason."
Ironically, Hobby Lobby's case claimed that providing insurance coverage for birth control conflicted with the employer's Christian faith. The Satanic Temple argues that unnecessary roadblocks to abortion conflict with theirs.
via The Satanic Temple
The Temple is promoting the ritual on I-95 billboards in Florida where women must endure an ultrasound and go through pre-procedure, anti-choice counseling before having an abortion.
The Temple's billboards inform women that they can circumvent the restrictions by simply citing a Satanic ritual.
"Susan, you're telling me I do not have to endure a waiting period when I have an abortion?" one of the women on the billboard says.
"That's true if you're a SATANIST!" the other replies.
Next to the ladies is a symbol of a goat head in a pentagram and a message about the ritual.
Image of The Satanic Temple billboard.
via The Satanic Temple
The Temple also provides a letter that women seeking abortions can provide to medical staff. It explains the ritual and why it exempts them from obligations that are an undue burden to their religious practice.
The Temple believes that some medical practitioners may reject its requests. However, it believes that doing so is a violation of religious freedom and it will take legal action if necessary.
"It would be unconstitutional to require a waiting period before receiving holy communion," the temple says in a video. "It would be illegal to demand Muslims receive counseling prior to Ramadan. It would be ridiculous to demand that Christians affirm in writing the unscientific assertion that baptism can cause brain cancers."
"So we expect the same rights as any other religious organization," the video says.
To perform the ritual, a woman looks into a mirror to affirm their personhood and responsibility to herself. Once the woman is focused and comfortable, they are to recite two of the Temple's Seven Tenets.
Tenet III: One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone. One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone.
Tenet V. Beliefs should conform to one's best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one's beliefs.
Then they are to recite a personal affirmation: "By my body, my blood. Then by my will, it is done."
The ritual affirms The Temple's belief in personal responsibility and liberty that, coincidentally, mirror that of the U.S. Constitution.
"Satan is a symbol of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds," the Temple's website reads.