Satanic Temple to argue abortion is ritual in legal challenges to states that put up hurdles to procedure

Pentacle satanic with candles in a dark ritual, detail of black magic and beliefs

The Satanic Temple (TST) said its adherents should be permitted religious exceptions to perform religious abortion rituals in states that have put up barriers to the controversial procedure. 

Responding to a leaked Supreme Court opinion draft that would overturn Roe v. Wade, TST said it was committed to protecting “religious abortion access” for its members. 

“In states that outlaw abortion but grant exceptions for instances of incest and rape,” TST said in a statement, “members should be permitted a religious exception to perform TST’s religious abortion ritual.” 

“States that outlaw abortion and do not grant exceptions present more significant challenges, but TST has a number of plans that we will be undertaking quite soon,” TST said. “First, we will be suing the FDA to permit TST access to Mifepristone and Misoprostol for use under medical supervision as part of our religious abortion ritual.” 

TST said it is filing the lawsuit under Federal RFRA, adding that “unfettered access” to these drugs – which are taken to terminate a pregnancy – would be a considerable step toward enabling TST to perform its abortion ritual without government interference. 

The religious organization introduced the “Satanic Abortion Ritual” to argue for a religious exception under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 federal law which made it illegal for states to interfere in anyone’s religion without demonstrating a compelling interest. 


TST’s argument was that if it regarded abortion as a religious ritual, then the state could not legally intervene or burden patients with prerequisites. The “ritual” argument came amid a series of lawsuits aimed at Missouri where women are, among other things, compelled to read “informed consent” booklets before going through with an abortion. 

One of their arguments was that subjecting its members to these requirements violated one of its central tenets: “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.” 

woman in white t-shirt holding placard with my body my choice lettering while covering face on pink

The abortion ritual, according to TST’s website, involves the recitation of two of its tenets and a personal affirmation that is “ceremoniously intertwined” with the abortion. 

“Because prerequisite procedures such as waiting periods, mandatory viewing of sonograms, and compulsory counseling contravene Satanists’ religious convictions, those who perform the religious abortion ritual are exempt from these requirements and can receive first-trimester abortions on demand in states that enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” TST says on its website.  

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