Thursday, February 14, 2019

Satanic Temple Adherent Loses Challenge To Missouri Abortion Restrictions

In Doe v. Parson, (MO Sup, Ct., Feb. 13, 2019), the Missouri Supreme Court rejected a challenge by a member of the Satanic Temple to the state's informed consent abortion law. Rejecting both an Establishment Clause and a religious freedom challenge, the court said in part:
Ms. Doe alleges by offering her a booklet containing what she refers to as legislative findings constituting the “Missouri tenet,” Missouri is violating her religious beliefs by forcing her to read the contrary religious belief contained in the booklet. But the informed consent law does not purport to make any sort of legislative findings. It simply requires the noted statements be included in a booklet offered to a woman seeking an abortion. § 188.027....
This Court need not determine whether requiring Ms. Doe to have an ultrasound, to listen to the fetal heartbeat, or to read the booklet offered by Planned Parenthood would have constituted a restriction on her religious freedom, for the statute imposes no such requirements. Nothing in the informed consent law requires a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound, much less to pay for the ultrasound or to listen to the fetal heartbeat. The informed consent law solely requires an abortion provider or another qualified professional to present a woman seeking an abortion with the opportunity to have or to view an ultrasound and, if she chooses to have one, an opportunity to listen to the heartbeat. Ms. Doe and any other woman is free to decline both opportunities.
Two justices also joined in concurring opinion. St. Louis Public Radio reports on the decision.