Satanic temple seeks access to abortion drugs

The abortion drug Mifepristone, also known as RU486, is pictured at an abortion clinic February 17, 2006 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a group of Satanists are calling on the Food and Drug Administration for access to “abortion pills without having to go through regulatory steps,” the group announced on Friday.

The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Mass., said the request was aimed at a Texas abortion ban that went into effect this week. Texas law prohibits abortions from about six weeks after conception, and it relies on private parties for enforcement, making it difficult for federal courts to intervene.

“As lawyers wring their hands on Texas lawmakers[‘] attack Roe vs. Wade, Satanists are using a creative approach to give women in Texas access to abortion: religious freedom,” the Temple said in a press release. “For the past few years, the Satanic Temple has used its status as a religion to assert that access to abortion is a faith-based right.”

The group noted that last year the Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by the Temple that sought to overturn Missouri’s abortion laws.

“I’m sure the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who spends much of his time writing press releases on religious liberty issues in other states — will be proud to see that Texas’ robust religious liberty laws, which he so vehemently defends , will prevent future abortion rituals from being interrupted by superfluous government. restrictions intended solely to shame and harass those seeking abortions,” the Satanic Temple spokesperson said. Lucien Greves.

In a letter to the FDA, the group said it wanted access to the abortifacients mifepristone and misoprostol. The letter requests a religious exemption from the “Federal Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy” (REMS) for the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol.

The group went on to explain its legal case in a statement:

Access to misoprostol requires a prescription, and mifepristone can only be obtained through an approved prescriber and can only be dispensed according to specific guidelines. Satanists say they should have access to pills for religious use – something the FDA has already approved in a different situation.

The Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA) was initiated and enacted to ensure Native Americans unfettered access to peyote for their religious rituals. Consistent with this goal, The Satanic Temple wants unfettered access to abortifacients for its religious use. Since peyote is a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use, [the Temple’s] The request for access to prescription drugs is an even more reasonable request that should be granted under federal law.

The letter to the FDA goes further:

TST members use these products in a sacramental setting. The satanic ritual of abortion is a sacrament that surrounds and includes the act of abortion. It is designed to combat feelings of guilt, doubt and shame and to allow the member to assert or reassert their power and control over their mind and body. The REMS prescription requirement significantly interferes with the satanic ritual of abortion because the government prevents members from accessing the drugs involved in the ritual.

Based on the foregoing, my client’s position is that the statute of limitations infringes the religious freedom of its members, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Citation omitted.) My client is therefore requesting a religious exemption from the REMS program for mifepristone and misoprostol.

The group says it “wishes to adhere to Medical Drug Monitoring” because it “has a strong desire to ensure the health and safety of its members”. The group suggests that anyone wishing to undergo their so-called “satanic abortion ritual” first go to a doctor for medical clearance and return to the temple with, in essence, a clearance slip. The member would “undertake[] in the ritual” then “return[] to the doctor for a follow-up evaluation” within 7 to 14 days.

“Because there is no prescription, the member would obtain the medications directly from TST, rather than requiring the use of a pharmacy,” the letter to the FDA explains. “This takes the doctor and pharmacist away from the process while simultaneously providing medical oversight for patient safety.”

The group provides a link to their website to explain precisely what a “satanic abortion ritual” entails:

The Satanic Abortion Ritual provides spiritual comfort and affirms bodily autonomy, self-esteem, and freedom from coercive forces with the affirmation of the seven tenets of TST. The ritual is not intended to convince a person to have an abortion. Instead, it sanctifies the abortion process by instilling confidence and protecting bodily rights during the safe and scientific procedure.

[ . . . ]

Immediately before taking the medication(s) to terminate your pregnancy, look at your reflection to remind yourself of your personality and your responsibility to yourself. Focus on your intention, take a deep breath, and get comfortable. When you are ready, read the third principle aloud to begin the ritual. After swallowing the medicine(s), take a deep breath and recite the fifth principle. After passing the embryo, return to your reflection and recite the personal affirmation. Feel the doubts dissipate and your confidence grow as you have just made a decision that affirms your autonomy and your free will. The religious ritual of abortion is now over.

The group has written to the FDA that it hopes to have a response within 60 days. If no response is received, litigation in Federal Court is threatened.

[Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images]

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