The Satanic Temple Loses Missouri Abortion Appeal

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 04, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a rather short decision dismissing a challenge brought by the Satanic Temple and a Mary Doe plaintiff against the state of Missouri's abortion laws requiring certain prerequisites.

If you had to read that a couple times because of the inclusion of the Satanic Temple (not to be confused with the Church of Satan), you're probably not alone. The group doesn't worship the devil, at least not seriously, but it does fight for social justice causes, particularly those that relate to or are founded upon religious beliefs. Unfortunately for the group and Mary Doe plaintiff, the Eighth Circuit agreed with the lower district court that the temple and Doe lacked standing due to a biological/legal technicality.

Timing Matters

The Eighth Circuit basically explained that precedent has established that a challenger to an abortion statute must be pregnant and seeking an abortion when they file their case. In order to have standing, prospective relief is not enough.

In Mary Doe's case, she complied with all the Missouri's statute's requirements, including the three day waiting period, reading a pamphlet on fetal pain, and being given the option to listen to the fetal heartbeat.

The court did note that the Doe challenger would have still had standing if she had filed while pregnant, and then got the abortion. Interestingly though, in a similar case currently pending at the Missouri Supreme Court (having already been argued), this same Doe plaintiff is bringing a similar challenge, and in that case, did file while still pregnant. And in yet a third lawsuit, also championed by the Satanic Temple, a Judy Doe plaintiff is bringing another similar challenge in the Missouri federal courts, and also alleges that she was pregnant at the time of filing.

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