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Doe v. Parson

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

February 21, 2019

JUDY DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL L. PARSON[1], et al., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter seeking declarative and injunctive relief comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim, [Doc. No. 17]. Plaintiffs seek (1) declaratory judgment that certain Missouri Statutes are void and (2) injunctive relief against Defendants' enforcement of the statutes. For the reasons below, Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted.

         Facts and Background

         Plaintiff's Complaint alleges the following:

         Plaintiff Judy Doe (“Doe” or “Plaintiff”) is a competent, adult woman who is pregnant and plans to have an abortion in St. Louis, Missouri. Doe is a Missouri citizen and a member of The Satanic Temple. Doe holds certain religious beliefs as a member of The Satanic Temple. Doe complains that Missouri's Voluntary and Informed Consent law, RSMo § 188.027.1, violates the First Amendment's Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses.

         Named as defendants are the Missouri Governor and Attorney General (the “State Defendants”), as well as the Chairman, Secretary and Members of the Missouri Board of Registration of the Healing Arts (the “Board Defendants”), and John Doe I and John Doe II, two medical professionals who are licensed by the state of Missouri to deliver healthcare services in Missouri (the “Healthcare Defendants”).

         Mo. Rev. Stat. § 188.027.1(2), requires that prior to providing a woman with an abortion, the Healthcare Defendants must deliver to her a booklet prepared by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (the “Booklet”). The Booklet states, in pertinent part, “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being” (the “Missouri Tenets”).

         Plaintiffs allege that the Missouri Tenets communicate the religious belief that human tissue in utero that is not viable (“Human Tissue”) is, starting at conception, a unique human being with a life of its own, separate and apart from the woman whose uterus it occupies. Implicit in this belief is that the destruction of Human Tissue is morally wrong.

         The Missouri Tenets are believed by some but not all people in Missouri, including without limitation members of the Catholic Church and some evangelical and fundamentalist Christian congregations.

         The Booklet contains detailed descriptions and images of the anatomical and physiological characteristics of Human Tissue at two-week gestational increments from conception to full term.

         Mo. Rev. Stat. § 188.027.1(4) requires that prior to providing a woman with an abortion, the Healthcare Defendants “shall provide the woman with the opportunity to view . . . an active ultrasound of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child if the heartbeat is audible” (the “Ultrasound Opportunity”). The Ultrasound Opportunity must include “the dimensions of the unborn child, and accurately portray [] the presence of external members and internal organs, if present or viewable, of the unborn child.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 188.027.1(4) requires the Healthcare Defendants to wait seventy-two hours after the Ultrasound Opportunity before providing Plaintiff with an abortion (the “72 Hour Waiting Period”).

         Mo. Rev. Stat. § 188.027.12 requires The Healthcare Defendants to wait twenty-four hours after the Ultrasound Opportunity before providing a woman with an abortion if the 72 Hour Waiting Period is enjoined by the Court (the “24 Hour Waiting Period.”).

         Mo. Rev. Stat. §188.027.3 also requires a woman to certify in writing that she has received the Booklet and the Ultrasound Opportunity before she may get an abortion (the “Certification Requirement”).

         The Booklet, the Ultrasound Opportunity, the 72 Hour Waiting Period, the 24 Hour Waiting Period and Certification Requirement are referred to by Plaintiffs as the “Missouri Lectionary.” The purpose of the Missouri Lectionary is to “inform” a woman who has decided to get an abortion that the Missouri Tenets are true.

         Plaintiffs contend that the effect of the Missouri Lectionary is to:

A) Encourage Plaintiff to believe the Missouri Tenets and forgo an abortion; and
B) Compel Plaintiff to wait and consider the Missouri Tenets and Missouri Lectionary for at least three (3) days before getting the abortion; and
C) Cause Plaintiff doubt, guilt, and shame for getting an abortion.

         The Healthcare Defendants are required by law to deliver the Missouri Lectionary to Plaintiff. The Missouri Lectionary is delivered when Plaintiff has already decided to get an abortion.

         Plaintiff's religious beliefs include the following (the “Satanic Tenets”):

A) A woman's body is inviolable and subject to her will alone;
B) She makes decisions regarding her health based on the best scientific understanding of the world, even if the science does not comport with the ...

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