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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Satanists file federal lawsuit to overturn Idaho’s abortion ban

An attendee at Planned Parenthood’s Bans Off Our Bodies rally for abortion rights holds a sign reading “Idaho the women as property state” outside of the Idaho Statehouse in downtown Boise on May 14. The Satanist Temple of America has filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to prevent it from enforcing a law prohibiting abortions.   (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman)

The Satanic Temple has joined the legal effort to overturn Idaho’s criminal ban on abortions.

The religious organization headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Idaho on Friday alleging the law, which went into effect Aug. 25 and imposes felony criminal charges on any person performing an abortion in the state, violates members’ Constitutional rights.

The lawsuit claims the group, which “venerates but does not worship” the Satan that is present in John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost,” has more than 3,500 members in Idaho, including women who become involuntarily pregnant.

“(The Satanic Temple) members wish to remain anonymous due to the risk of violent retribution from domestic terrorists motivated by animosity to proponents of abortion and non-Christian religious beliefs,” the lawsuit states.

The Satanic Temple alleges Idaho’s law violates its members’ Fifth, 13th and 14th Amendment rights, and violates Idaho state laws protecting the free exercise of religion. The group has an established ritual for members receiving an abortion, practices that are prevented because of Idaho’s law banning abortions, the lawsuit alleges.

Idaho’s law has been challenged by the health care provider Planned Parenthood in the state Supreme Court. A hearing on those challenges is scheduled in Boise on Thursday.

The Satanic Temple lawsuit has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Edward Patricco Jr. A hearing had not yet been scheduled as of Friday afternoon.

The organization filed a similar lawsuit in Indiana on Sept. 21, where it claims to have 11,300 members. A federal judge ruled this week that Indiana’s abortion ban was unconstitutional and blocked its enforcement. They are also fighting Texas’ ban on abortion in federal court on similar grounds.