Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, which dealt with Missouri’s “informed consent” counseling that is required 72 hours before abortions are performed.
The judges in a unanimous ruling wrote that they tossed the lawsuit because the woman at the center of the case was not pregnant when she sued and consequently “lacks constitutional standing.”
Missouri law requires doctors providing abortions to give women a booklet that says “the life of each human being begins at conception,” offer them an ultrasound and give them an opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.
The Satanic Temple and an anonymous member who had an abortion sued the state in 2015 over the laws, which they alleged violated their religious beliefs. Satanic Temple members don’t believe in a literal Satan but see the biblical Satan as a metaphor for rebellion against tyranny.
In the anonymous woman’s original complaint, she said she believes that “a woman’s body is inviolable and subject to her will alone” and that she makes health decisions based on “the best scientific understanding of the world, even if the science does not comport with the religious or political beliefs of others.”
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley spokeswoman Mary Compton in a Wednesday statement said the office will “continue to vigorously defend Missouri’s sensible waiting period law.”
Satanic Temple Co-Founder Lucien Greaves in a statement said he views the Tuesday dismissal “as a mere prelude to victory.”
There still are two similar lawsuits brought by members of The Satanic Temple against Missouri abortion laws that are pending in state and federal court. Plaintiffs in both those cases were pregnant when they filed the lawsuits.
James MacNaughton, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the “proper disposition” would be for judges to address the merits of The Satanic Temple arguments in those cases. He said judges “clearly decided to take a pass” on the case before the 8th Circuit.
“I’m disappointed that the court did not have the wisdom to step up and address the issues because they are significant and substantial issues and not deserving of being swept under the rug by being ignored,” MacNaughton said.