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Satanic Temple lawsuit results in easier abortions in Missouri

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Last week, the Missouri solicitor general testified that women seeking abortions must only be asked if they want to hear the fetal heartbeat, but are not required to do so or to have the ultrasound if it isn't considered medically necessary. (Kike Calvo/National Geographic/Getty Images)

Ultrasounds will no longer be considered a legal requirement before abortions in Missouri, after the Satanic Temple sued the governor and attorney general for violating its members’ religious rights.

The backstory

The Satanic Temple brought the lawsuit in 2015, after one of its members drove three hours to Missouri’s only abortion clinic and was forced to wait 72 hours and get an ultrasound before getting an abortion.

At the time, Missouri’s abortion consent law was interpreted as requiring the ultrasound.

The woman brought a note requesting a legal exemption to the ultrasound, on the basis that the Satanic Temple considers bodily autonomy one of its central principles. It was denied, so the Temple argues that denial violated the woman’s religious freedom.

The new interpretation

Last week, Missouri Solicitor General D. John Sauer testified that women seeking abortions must only be asked if they want to hear the fetal heartbeat, but are not required to do so or to have the ultrasound if it isn't considered medically necessary.

While that new information changes how abortions are administered in Missouri, the lawsuit is ongoing.

The state Supreme Court must rule on whether the woman has a right to sue the state, and if she wins that, then the religious freedom suit will be handled in lower state courts.

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