(AM) Earlier in the week, the Satanic Temple argued a case before the Missouri Supreme Court on behalf of “Mary Doe,” a woman who says the state violated her right to religious freedom when she went to get an abortion back in 2015.
Specifically, Mary, who did ultimately get the abortion, says the state’s informed consent law — which requires women seeking abortions to wait 72 hours, have an ultrasound, and sign a form that states they’ read a booklet promoting the idea that life begins at conception — violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
While a verdict in the case is yet to be reached, the Satanic Temple has already claimed a major victory. In a press release published Wednesday, the Temple wrote that in oral arguments on Tuesday, the state’s solicitor general ceded ground:
“In an unprecedented triumph for The Satanic Temple, D. John Sauer, Missouri’s Solicitor General announced to the State’s Supreme Court that ultrasounds are not mandatory to obtain an abortion. This information no doubt comes as a surprise to Missouri’s abortion providers who regularly perform ultrasounds they have perceived as mandated by the State.”
The Temple’s attorney, James MacNaughton, argued that the restrictions of the informed consent law were medically unnecessary and intended only to “impose shame upon Mary,” the press release states.
In an audio recording of the arguments, published by the court, justices asked Solicitor General Sauer if it is “the position of the State that an ultrasound does not have to be conducted unless a person says they want the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.”
In response, Sauer said the state’s interpretation of the law is that women merely be offered the “opportunity” to listen to the heartbeat via ultrasound and that even if the woman declines, the requirement has still been satisfied.
Jex Blackmore, a reproductive rights spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, said in the press release that ultrasounds in Missouri will now be “elevated to the realm of a medical procedure rather than an experience shared with the State’s political and religious beliefs.”
As attorney MacNaughton argued in court Tuesday, the Temple believes the government “should not be in the business of preaching” and doing so violates the spirit of the Constitution:
“It is a bedrock principle of our culture [and] of our country that we choose for ourselves what to believe by way of religious beliefs. It’s not the business of government to tell us that.”