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Satanic Temple challenges Texas abortion restrictions for its members, claiming religious exemptions

Anti-abortion members of the Texas Legislature have begun to use the organization’s challenge to raise campaign funds, framing the issue as a matter of “good versus evil.”

AUSTIN — Among the challenges looming for Texas’ new “heartbeat law” is one from The Satanic Temple, whose legal counsel is arguing to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that members should continue to have access to abortion-inducing medication under the state’s religious medical exemption.

The Satanic Temple, which is recognized as a religion by the Internal Revenue Service, contends that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows Native Americans to have access to drugs for religious rituals, also applies to Satanists.

The federal act is based on a section of the 14th Amendment that has been interpreted by courts to require state compliance with the First Amendment. Congress has since amended the religious freedom act so that it applies only to federal entities, including the FDA. But the state also has a religious medical exemption, and The Satanic Temple says it has requested officials follow it in this case.

“Normally, access to Misoprostol requires a prescription, and Mifepristone can only be obtained through an approved prescriber and can only be dispensed in accordance with specific guidelines,” the religion says on its website. “TST has requested that we can directly supply Satanists who wish to undergo an abortion in a religious context with these abortifacients.”

Misoprostol is a drug used during the first trimester of a pregnancy to induce an abortion. Mifepristone is the second drug used in the medical abortion regimen.

The Satanic Temple describes taking the medication as a ritual. If the FDA’s exemption is granted, the temple says members of the religion would have to have a medical examination and a physician’s certification before they would be directly supplied with abortion pills by the religious organization.

According to fundamental tenets listed on the religion’s website, “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.”

At least one Texas Republican elected official, state Sen. Angela Paxton, already is using The Satanic Temple’s request as ammunition in her latest pitch for donations.

“As horrific as it sounds, the leading proponents of abortion literally worship Satan,” Paxton, the wife of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in her donation request. “Now more than ever the pro-life movement must unite to be a voice for the unborn and a force for good. This is a battle of good versus evil.”

According to its website, and despite its name, The Satanic Temple does not actually worship Satan, nor do its members believe in the supernatural. It also says members do not promote evil.

“The Satanic Temple believes that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition,” reads an FAQ posted on its website. “As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan.”

The Satanic Temple has a history of defying abortion restrictions in Texas.

Late last year, it posted a billboard in Dallas that read “abortion saves lives.”

Recently, the religion has also offered to fund legal fees for anyone sued for aiding or abetting an abortion under Senate Bill 8.

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