SALEM, Mass. — The Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple has released a statement asserting that a new Texas rule requiring abortionists to have the remains of aborted babies buried or cremated violates their religious beliefs.
“The Satanic Temple believes burial rites are a well-established component of religious practice,” it wrote on Saturday. “This is undisputed in the entirety of US legal history. In addition, members of The Satanic Temple believe in the inviolability of the body and, as such, these rules contradict our fundamental beliefs.”
As previously reported, the rule, requested by Gov. Greg Abbott, was finalized last Monday and is set to take effect on Dec. 19.
“Governor Abbott believes human and fetal remains should not be treated like medical waste, and the proposed rule changes affirms the value and dignity of all life,” spokesperson Ciara Matthew said in a statement in July when the proposal was first announced. “For the unborn, the mothers and the hospital and clinic staff, the governor believes it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.”
Abortion facilities customarily contract with third party medical waste companies to dispose of the aborted babies, which are usually classified as “pathological waste.” The containers of aborted babies, mixed in with boxes of bodily fluids, tissues and other items that are not permitted to be thrown in the trash, are then transported to an incineration plant where they are burned into ash and then dumped into landfills.
However, current Texas law also allows for other types of disposal, including “grinding and discharging to a sanitary sewer system,” “chlorine disinfection/maceration followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill” or other “approved alternate treatment process, provided that the process renders the item as unrecognizable, followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill.”
The new law will now mandate that abortionists utilize services provided by funeral homes rather than medical waste companies.
But The Satanic Temple says that it can’t comply with the rule because of its beliefs. It points to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as its basis for refusal and states that it will “require legal support to protect the rights of our members.”
“The First Amendment protects our right to practice our beliefs, and under the Religious Freedom Reform Act (RFRA), the State must present a compelling reason for why they want to enforce rules that inhibit adherence to our religious practices,” the group stated. “Clearly, the State of Texas has no compelling reason because these rules were not enacted to promote health and safety, but rather to harass and burden women who terminate their pregnancies.”
As previously reported, The Satanic Temple, which identifies as a “non-theistic” organization, does not believe in God or Satan, but contends that one can be religious without a belief in the supernatural.
“It is the position of The Satanic Temple that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan,” the group’s website reads. “To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions.”
“Satan is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds,” it states. “Satan is an icon for the unbowed will of the unsilenced inquirer—the heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions.”
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