Following the Hobby Lobby decision, I wrote that one of the more problematic issues I saw was that the decision was framed in terms of the “sincerely held religious beliefs” of the company’s owners. My concern was this could result in judging a person’s beliefs. The Satanic Temple is stepping through that door.
It is specifically invoking Hobby Lobby for exemptions from state-mandated “informational” materials used as a part of informed consent. It says it believes “the body is inviolable – subject to one’s own will alone” and the belief “is fundamental to our religious philosophy.” It reasons that requiring women to receive “biased or false” information that is based on politics and not science is an “affront” to that belief.
An example of what the Temple is aiming at is seen in South Dakota law. Informed consent requires a doctor give the patient a written statement that says, among other things, that an abortion “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being” and that she has “an existing relationship with that unborn human being” that is protected by the U.S. Constitution and staste law. The woman is required to to sign each page of the document and certify that she understands its contents.
Rather than filing some sort of lawsit, The Satanic Temple is providing a sample letter for “[a]ll women who share our deeply held belief.” The letter tells the doctor that giving her “Political Information … imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my religious beliefs.” Some may scoff but isn’t whether this is a “sincerely held religious belief” in the eye of the beholder? More imnportant, who has the right to determine whether it is a religious belief or sincerely held?
Unfortunately, the potential legitimacy of this approach is undercut by who is behind it. People will view this either as a publicity stunt or crackpots attacking religion and the religious. Yet the shock value doesn’t change the fact that Hobby Lobby has greater ramifications than corporate religious rights.
I do not regard Political Information to be scientifically true or accurate or even relevant to my medical decisions.
The Satanic Temple, “Political Information Opt-Out”