INDIANAPOLIS — A judge has dismissed the Satanic Temple’s lawsuit which challenged Indiana’s near-total abortion ban by claiming the restrictive law infringed on their followers’ religious rights.
A judge with the United States District Court of the Southern District of Indiana didn’t weigh in on the matter of whether the abortion ban’s creation or enforcement lies in the muddled grounds of infringement of religious beliefs or even separation of church and state. The judge’s dismissal, instead, rested squarely on the decision that the Satanic Temple’s lawsuit had no ground to stand on due to the temple operating no abortion clinics in Indiana and failing to disclose specific members who are being affected by the ban.
“(The Satanic Temple) operates no ‘licensed… abortion clinic in Indiana,’ employs no ‘physicians who are licensed to practice medicine in Indiana’ and provides no ‘in-person services to patients’ in Indiana,” Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson wrote in her decision.
The judge also stated that the Satanic Temple also has no plans to create a clinic in Indiana and “‘does not presently intend’ to seek a license for an abortion clinic in Indiana.”
In the Satanic Temple’s Tenents, the right to abortion is paramount in its belief that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.” The temple operates an abortion clinic out of New Mexico which helps members across the country have access to abortion by providing abortion medication through the mail.
While the Satanic Temple has no plans to create a physical clinic in Indiana, the temple argued it still had a right to assist its Indiana members by providing abortions as needed, in accordance with their religious beliefs, via their mailing operation. But the judge pointed out that this abortion pill via mail method was prohibited under both federal and state law.
The judge also said the dismissal of the lawsuit was in part because the Satanic Temple failed to prove how the abortion ban caused injury to its Indiana members due to not specifically identifying members who are being affected.
The Satanic Temple reportedly boasts more than 90 members in Indiana but refused to identify any members specifically in the lawsuit, instead presenting them statistically. The temple stated it kept its members anonymous because “neither the Court nor the Defendants can guarantee their identity will remain secret.”
The Satanic Temple maintained its members’ secrecy citing fear of “domestic terrorists” along with potential leaks of confidential information, naming Attorney General Todd Rokita in connection with allegedly leaking confidential information in a prior abortion case.
The judge ruled, however, that without presenting specifically what members were affected the temple “failed to meet its burden to prove that there are actual or potential Indiana patients at all.”
When pressed, the Satanic Temple told the court that it could not “admit, deny nor vouch” that any Indiana member has ever received abortion-inducing drugs from the temple.
“In sum, the Satanic Temple’s allegations fail to prove it has suffered any injury in fact,” the judge concluded.
The court then ruled the Satanic Temple’s lawsuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction without leave to amend.
“It takes a desperate and irresponsible judge to refuse to hear our case because of a baffling refusal to accept that any of our membership in Indiana may get pregnant in the future,” said Lucien Greaves, cofounder and spokesperson for the Satanic Temple.
“This was not a decision regarding the question of law we brought before the court. This is the rationalization of a judge who simply refused to do the job of hearing that case and impartially adjudicate it.”