Missouri's Solicitor General D. John Sauer declared Wednesday that ultrasounds are not required to obtain an abortion in the state, according to a press release from The Satanic Temple.
The announcement comes after a showdown in the Missouri Supreme Court in an abortion case involving The Satanic Temple against the state. A Missouri woman, who identifies as Mary Doe and is a follower of The Satanic Temple, sued the state for requiring her to conform to an informed consent law before she had an abortion in 2015.
The law requires women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion, look at an ultrasound and sign a form which states they've read material that contains the line, "(t)he life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."
The group's attorney argued in court that the ultrasound was medically unnecessary and a violation of religious freedom because according to Satanism, life does not begin at conception.
In an audio recording of the arguments published by the court, the justices asked the State’s attorney if “it’s the position of the State that an ultrasound does not have to be conducted unless a person says they want the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.”
Missouri’s Solicitor General Sauer affirms that the State’s interpretation of the statute is that women should only be offered the “opportunity” to have an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat. However, if a woman declines the procedure, the ultrasound need not be performed and the requirement has been satisfied.
"The State's interpretation of the law will allow women in Missouri seeking an abortion to do so with a level of dignity not currently available to them," says Jex Blackmore, the reproductive rights spokesperson for The Satanic Temple. "Women will no longer be forced to decide whether or not they want to listen to the fetal heartbeat while naked, with their feet in stirrups, and a transvaginal ultrasound wand inside of them."
The Supreme Court of Missouri has not reached a verdict in the case, however, the State's clarification of the law could allow women to obtain an abortion without the ultrasound if not medically necessary, according to the news release.
“We look forward to proving our case in court, and liberating women of alternative faiths from the State’s oppressive theocratic stranglehold over personal medical health procedures," Blackmore says.