There are times when you, my favorite reader, think I am quite “out there” arguing for First Amendment rights as it concerns freedom of religion issues. So you will have fun with this under-reported story, which happens to be up my alley.

As you might have heard, Kansas City Planned Parenthood has reopened its clinic. However, based on a recent 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the Planned Parenthood Great Plains clinic in Columbia license has been put on hold.

What you may not have heard about is a lawsuit by another religious group supporting reproductive rights, contending that Missouri’s abortion laws are too restrictive as it concerns their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

According to Jex Blackmore, national spokeswoman for The Satanic Temple, “(Missouri’s) mandated ‘informed consent’ materials, ultrasound, and 72-hour waiting period violated a member of The Satanic Temple’s First Amendment rights.”

One of the members of The Satanic Temple, “Mary”, presented “a letter of religious exemption absolving the clinic of any responsibility for” preforming an abortion at the St. Louis clinic in 2015, but could not get immediate care from the facility based on Missouri statute. The group contends that two Missouri laws (188.027 1 RSMo) are in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

According to a press release from the temple, “first she (“Mary”) that forced to watch unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces (the patients) to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions.”

The contention is that “Mary’s” case falls under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — the same law that Hobby Lobby used to deny abortion insurance coverage because of the owner’s deeply held religious beliefs. In addition, The Satanic Temple contends that the “question of when life begins is absolutely a religious opinion, and the state has no business proselytizing religious beliefs.”

Answering the question as to when does life begin differs by the denomination and sect.

Some legislators believe that life begins at conception. Some say it’s four weeks after conception, embracing ultrasound as offering scientific proof of their religious beliefs. Others believe life begins when the fetus is viable to sustain life outside of the womb, at 20 weeks, or at the start of the third trimester.

Missouri’s statute, 188.027 RSMo, states, “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will take the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”

According to the Satanic group, there is no scientific proof of this statement, and it is based solely on the beliefs of one religious denomination.

Now, if you are of the belief that Satanism is not a real religion, there are many sources that disagree with you.

From the University of California-Los Angeles:

“Satanism is a religion, acknowledged by the US Federal Government, that maintains ethical doctrines, specific rituals, and true believers... In most sects, Satanism is a reversal of Christianity, and similarities are found between the symbolism and ritual practices of each group.”

It has been a long time coming that a religious liberal organization such as The Satanic Temple uses the same laws used by the conservative Christian groups to demand “religious freedom” for liberal causes.

The Satanic Temple is correct when it says that the government “has no business proselytizing religious beliefs.” The First Amendment is specific on this.

Furthermore, the purpose of the religious freedom act is “to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.”

The Bill of Rights and the act were written not to protect the majority, but to protect the minority. In this case, minority religions. If the courts follow the standards set by Hobby Lobby, then it will have to find the Missouri statute contrary to federal law and Constitution.

David Rosman is an editor, writer and professional speaker. You can read more of his commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.com


About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

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