I’m not in the habit of reading Cosmopolitan and I can’t honestly say that I regret my negligence. However, many women do; it is one of the biggest magazines in the United States, with an estimated readership of more than 32 million, both in print and on the web. It knows what interests young career women – sex, health, gossip and fashion, mostly.
But the November-December issue promoted another interest – Satanism. It featured a “Cosmo special report” titled “The Satanic Abortion Clinic That’s Pissed Off Pretty Much Everyone…and Might Beat the Bans Anyway.”
The focus of the article is one of America’s weirdest enterprises: “Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic”. Based in New Mexico, which has very liberal abortion laws, the telehealth clinic offers 24/7 advice about abortion and supplies abortion pills until the eleventh week of pregnancy.
It’s not just your average abortion clinic – it’s run by The Satanic Temple, an organisation for Satan worshippers, and it has ambitious plans for providing “free religious reproductive healthcare” across the US. The Satanic Temple claims that it is a religion and that providing abortion is an important element in its rituals. In fact, American tax authorities have recognised The Satanic Temple as a religious group with nonprofit tax-exempt status.
And now The Satanic Temple is trying to persuade courts in Idaho and Indiana to follow New Mexico’s lead. An expert on religious freedom legislation told Cosmo:
It’s a layered plan, crafted with backup arguments to the backup arguments … “The logic flows, step-by-step. It all holds together.” If TST were to win an exception to state bans, it could become the biggest, and only, abortion medication provider in either Idaho or Indiana.
True, it’s a strange sort of religion, as The Satanic Temple denies that it believes in God, Satan or the supernatural. “To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions,” it says. However, it argues that it is a religion in the sense that it has a coherent narrative with its own rituals and community.
Cosmo’s journalist, Arielle Domb, painted an enthusiastic picture of the project, although she noted that few people had attended the clinic and it is burning through its cash. The magazine illustrated the article with fiery-red images evoking the Devil.
Up to a certain point, it all sounded like a tasteless adolescent joke. But then I read The Satanic Temple’s abortion ritual. It was hellish, truly hellish. Here is the way that Domb describes it:
First, you find a quiet space. Bring a mirror if you can. Just before taking the medication, gaze at your reflection and focus on your personhood. Home in on your intent, your responsibility to you. Take a few deep, relaxing breaths.
When you’re ready, read the following tenet aloud: One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
Take the medication and immediately afterward, recite, Beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.
Later, once your body expels the aborted tissue, return to your reflection. Focus again on your personhood, your power in making this decision.
Complete the ritual by reciting a personal affirmation: By my body, my blood; by my will, it is done.
This is not a joke; it is selling some poor woman’s soul to the Devil. Hell is a place where souls care nothing for one other; each is obsessed with the self. As C.S. Lewis said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’, and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’.”
I don’t think that Cosmo and I will ever see eye-to-eye about religion. You could sum up its hedonistic theology in the terrifying maxim of the English poet William Blake: “Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.” But on one thing we do agree: abortion is literally Satanic.
Michael Cook is the editor in chief of Mercator. He lives in Sydney, Australia.
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EDITORS NOTE: This Mercator column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.