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The Satanic Temple Challenges Missouri Over Restrictive Abortion Law

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The Satanic Temple announced on Friday it will argue two religious freedom lawsuits later this month against Missouri's abortion restrictions in the State Court of Appeals and a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

The lawsuits argue that Missouri's abortion "consent" law, which requires women requesting an abortion first receive "'informed consent' materials, ultrasound, and 72-hour waiting period," violates the religious rights of Satanic Temple members, according to the temple.

The lawsuits have been pending since May of 2015, when the church filed on behalf of the then-pregnant Mary Doe. When Doe drove over three hours to a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, seeking an abortion, she was told she had to wait 72 hours before she could receive the procedure. Doe provided her doctor with a note claiming a religious exemption to both the waiting period and the requirement that she review a booklet of "informed consent" materials, St. Louis Public Radio reports. The Planned Parenthood doctor refused to waive the waiting period, citing Missouri's law.

One of the central tenets of the Satanic Temple reads: "One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone." Doe and the Temple argue that Missouri's waiting period restriction violates her free exercise of this religious belief. Doe's federal lawsuit challenges the law as a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and her Missouri lawsuit argues that the law is a violation of Missouri's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Earlier this week, a U.S. District Court Judge dismissed Doe's federal case, writing that she no longer has standing to sue because she "is not now pregnant," Broadly reports. Marci Hamilton, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, called the dismissal "truly a non-sequitur," describing Doe's treatment as a "classic constitutional violation." Doe and the Satanic Temple promptly appealed the dismissal, resulting in the upcoming appeals court hearing, which will begin oral arguments on September 20th. The Missouri state lawsuit will begin oral arguments on Monday, September 11th.