JEFFERSON CITY • A Cole County judge on Monday heard why one Missouri woman believes the state’s abortion restrictions violate her religious beliefs.
The woman, identified only as Mary Doe to protect her from attacks, is a member of the Satanic Temple, which describes itself as “an association of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty.”
Under the group’s tenets, Doe does not believe having an abortion terminates a separate, living human being, court documents say. So she believes her rights were violated when she was subject to the consent information and the 72-hour waiting period when she went to Planned Parenthood for an abortion.
Missouri law requires abortion providers to give pregnant women information about the physical characteristics of the fetus and the fetus’ ability to feel pain by at least 22 weeks. It also requires that women wait 72 hours before having an abortion.
New Jersey-based attorney W. James MacNaughton argued Doe’s case Monday in front of Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem.
Doe “is asking for an abortion on demand,” MacNaughton said. In Missouri “the Legislature has deemed that human life begins at conception. They’ve deemed that an abortion is a termination of human life separate and independent from the mother. These are religious beliefs and she says, ‘No, thank you, I don’t believe in that stuff.’”
Doe already had the abortion.
John Hirth, attorney for Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster, said the state didn’t prevent her from having an abortion.
“I don’t know of any other case in which the issue has been purely the timing of something,” Hirth said. “We’re not talking about a right to engage in a religious practice, we’re talking about a right to engage in the practice when you want to.”
He added that Doe doesn’t have to read the consent information and she doesn’t have to think about her abortion during the 72-hour waiting period.
Beetem did not announce a decision Monday.