The Satanic Temple is inverting the context of that ruling: It believes in a woman's right to get an abortion without having to listen to information its members see as non-scientific. This is rooted in the group's belief in a "scientific understanding of the world," according to the press release.
As a thought experiment, this is fascinating, because it tests the boundaries of the Hobby Lobby ruling, asking: How will the Court's decision change the nature of religious-liberty claims in the United States? This is not the first time this question has come up. The ruling has already encouraged religious groups to petition the White House for special consideration on matters like non-discrimination against gay employees.
Here, though, the Satanists are pushing the question further. As a serious proposition, there are two big problems with the Satanic Temple's case. The organization's legal claims don't really hold up, and, as it turns out, it's not Satanic.
First, the organization isn't actually seeking an exemption through legal means, like a lawsuit or a legislative change. Instead, it has "drawn up a letter for women who are considering an abortion. The letter explains our position and puts the care provider on notice that a failure to respect our call for an exemption from state—mandated informed consent materials constitutes a violation of our religious liberty."
But that letter is legally meaningless, explained Ira Lupu, a law professor at George Washington University. "These laws create obligations for doctors to inform, not obligations for women to listen or read," he wrote in an email.
The Satanic Temple's spokesman, Lucien Greaves, said in an email that the letter is a first step. "We are not looking to initiate a proactive lawsuit in revolt against anti-abortion laws. We are prepared, however, to go to court to defend our deeply held beliefs if and when our religious liberties, as outlined in our exemption letter, are not respected."
But the problem is not just that the letter is meaningless; it's unclear that informed-consent laws actually create a religious burden on anyone, Satanist or not. The main question in Hobby Lobby was whether the law was a burden on religious practice, said Eduardo Peñalver, the dean of the Cornell University Law School. "The typical form a burden is saying, 'I’m being coerced to do something that my religious forbids me to do, or coerced not to do something that my religion requires me to do,'" he explained. "I’m not sure how these informed-consent laws would be framed in those terms—my religion forbids me from hearing these informed-consent disclosures?"
The other problem is that the Satanic Temple wants to extend this exemption to "all women who share our deeply held belief." Peñalver said this undermines the organization's claim. "If these are people who are not members of the Satanist Temple or adherents to Satanism, their basis for objecting may not be religious," he said. "If you’re going to raise a religious claim, you have to have a religious point of view."