Satanic Temple Files sues Indiana over abortion ban

INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) – The Satanic Temple is challenging Indiana’s near-total abortion ban with a lawsuit targeting Senate Enrolled Act 1, claiming the ban violates the religious rights of its adherents and violates the U.S. Constitution.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The Satanic Temple – based in Salem, Massachusetts – has 1.5 million members worldwide, including 11,300 members in Indiana.

Although often confused with the Church of Satan or Satan worship, the Satanic Temple does not believe in or worship the biblical Satan. Instead, they worship “the allegorical Satan described in the epic poem Paradise Lost—the defender of personal sovereignty against the dictates of religious authority.”

The Satanic Temple lists its mission as promoting benevolence and empathy, rejecting tyrannical authority, advocating practical common sense, fighting injustice, and embracing noble endeavours. The Temple is known for fighting for equal access to religious rights and challenging institutions that enact laws or practices that adhere to only a single religious belief — most notably Christianity.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 21, says a female member of the Satanic Temple residing in Indiana is being denied the right to practice her religious beliefs by denying her access to an abortion under Indiana’s new abortion ban becomes. The woman became pregnant “without her consent,” according to the lawsuit, citing the woman’s legal inability to consent to sex (other than rape or incest) along with contraceptive failure as the reason for this unwanted pregnancy.

Principle III of The Satanic Temple Principles states, “One’s own body is inviolable and subject only to one’s own will.” Under this principle, the Temple said that the fetal tissue carried in the woman’s womb is not considered an “unborn child,” such as the Indiana Code states. Instead, it is believed that the fetal tissue from conception to viability is not imbued with any humanity or existence separate and separate from that of the pregnant woman herself.

The lawsuit also mentions Principle V, which states that “beliefs should reflect the best scientific understanding in the world.” Under this principle, the lawsuit points out that early stages of fertilization, such as the formation of the zygote, are referred to in Indiana’s abortion ban as an “unborn child.” But by Principle V, or by scientific understanding, members of the Satanic Temple do not consider a zygote, blastocyst, embryo, or non-viable fetus to be an “unborn child.” These cells are considered part of a woman’s body and are not imbued with existence, humanity, or spiritual life; explained the lawsuit.

Under the two tenets previously discussed, the lawsuit states that members of the Satanic Temple have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy as a practice of their religious beliefs. By criminalizing abortion, Indiana denies these members their religious rights, in violation of the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act, the lawsuit argues.

The lawsuit lists a total of five counts of charges against Indiana’s near-total abortion ban, including alleging violations of the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits involuntary servitude. By forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, the lawsuit argues that women are being “placed in a state of involuntary servitude.”

Read the full lawsuit below.

Satanic Temple members aren’t the first to question Indiana’s near-total abortion ban. A Monroe County special judge recently blocked enforcement of the ban after a lawsuit by Indiana’s ACLU and a group of abortion providers challenged the new law, which went into effect Sept. 15.

The judge’s injunction means the state will revert to the previous abortion law, which allowed up to 20 weeks.

In her ruling, Judge Kelsey B. Hanlon noted that several issues remain to be resolved before the law can be enforced. Hanlon found some of the plaintiffs’ arguments persuasive and acknowledged that the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs Case rocked the “analytical landscape” of federal abortion issues.

Indiana courts, however, are not bound by this interpretation of the law when considering the state’s constitution, which has at times been interpreted to provide “more protection for the individual liberties of Hoosiers.”

Hanlon acknowledged that the state has an interest in regulating abortion “as long as such regulation does not violate the Indiana Constitution.” Satanic Temple Files sues Indiana over abortion ban

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