The Satanic Temple, a very serious outfit that promises to challenge the Arkansas Ten Commandments monument when it has its next erection on the Arkansas Capitol grounds, seems to be making headway in a challenge of Missouri, which has adopted many of the same anti-abortion laws Arkansas has adopted. Its argument: Religious freedom.

In arguments before the Missouri Supreme Court yesterday, Missouri’s top lawyer, Solicitor General John Sauer, said a law requiring “informed consent” of women seeking an abortion does not REQUIRE them to have an ultrasound to hear a fetal heartbeat, it only requires that they be OFFERED the opportunity.


The plaintiff in the case, referred to in court filings as “Mary Doe,” is challenging the state’s “informed consent” laws on the basis that they violate her religious beliefs in bodily autonomy, which is one of the tenets of the Satanic Temple. (It’s worth noting that the Satanic Temple describes itself as a “non-theistic religious organization” — that is, they don’t believe in a literal Satan.)

“When the state turns to her and says, ‘Would you like to hear the heartbeat?’ They’re preaching from the pulpit,” James MacNaughton, the Satanic Temple’s attorney, told Riverfront Times in September. “That’s an imposition. It’s not the business of the state to be a preacher.” 

Those religious freedom laws can sometimes come back to haunt you, as with Judge Wendell Griffen arguing that he should not be punished by the Arkansas Supreme Court for privately held opposition to the death penalty. Indeed, the entire abortion argument is based on religious beliefs. I look forward, also, to the first doctor who refuses to provide medical treatment to an adulterous legislator. That’s now the law of the land.

Arkansas law also requires that women must be offered a view of the ultrasound if one is made. An effort to mandate testing as part of a 12-week abortion ban was struck down in federal court.