Urgent Legal Action Announced To Stop Two GOP Abortion Bans

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The Satanic Temple, which is a religious organization that doesn’t promote the existence of a specific deity but has repeatedly engaged in pushes for religious rights and the separation of church and state, has sued authorities in both Indiana and Idaho over abortion bans in each state.

As summarized in the Indianapolis Star, the new Indiana law “bans abortions except in cases of rape or incest up to 10 weeks post-fertilization, when pregnancy poses a risk to the life or long-term health of the mother, or in the case of fatal fetal anomalies.” Exceptions to abortion bans for cases involving rape or incest aren’t necessarily a model of compassion, as requirements associated with the exceptions demand that victims engage in a potentially doubly traumatizing process of outlining and sufficiently proving what was done to them before obtaining reproductive healthcare that until recently was more freely available. The litigation from the Satanic Temple over these restrictions and measures imposed in Idaho focuses on concerns of religious freedom. Similar litigation from individuals involved with other faith traditions and cultural heritages, including Judaism, has already emerged targeting various abortion restrictions on similar grounds.

In short, the conservative ideal of prioritizing pregnancy to the point of denying the opportunity to pregnant individuals to obtain basic healthcare isn’t the approach taken by all religious people. The Temple’s litigation focuses on individuals who became pregnant even after taking contraception, a focus that would presumably address the potentially retaliatory argument of those who became pregnant being already aware of the states’ abortion restrictions, which could affect, under that reasoning, the level of personal impact from the draconian bans. The Indiana litigation came first, naming the governor and attorney general there, and a spokesperson for the office of Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) already reacted. “This new lawsuit merely offers weaker arguments for the same discredited right,” they said, referring to abortion — although some litigation has posited that abortion is a right under state constitutions around the country. The Indiana ban was recently put on hold in connection to that very sort of concern.

Accusations the Temple made in its lawsuits include violations of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and religious protections previously established at the state level. Attorney James Mac Naughton, who is representing the Temple, tied overturning Roe v. Wade at the federal level to having “woken a sleeping giant among women politically” and “stirred up a hornets’ nest of legal issues.” He also singled out one of Trump’s Supreme Court picks, adding: “Gorsuch, you want a national debate on abortion? Congratulations, you have one.” The litigation also alleges authorities are — without compensation — “taking the property of involuntarily pregnant women,” pointing out high premiums people receive for surrogacy.

Lawsuits targeting abortion bans on religious freedom grounds have also emerged in Florida and Texas. In Florida, abortions are now largely restricted after some 15 weeks, although more restrictions could follow. In Texas, where legislators prepared sweeping bans to take effect after Roe was overturned, performing an abortion across the entirety of pregnancy is a felony in most cases, and it’s punishable by up to life in prison.