Doe v. Parson, No. 19-1578 (8th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a Satanist, filed suit challenging a Missouri law requiring her to certify that she has had a chance to review certain information before having an abortion. Plaintiff alleged that Missouri's informed-consent law violates the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's First Amendment claims. As a preliminary matter, the court did not permit plaintiff to plead a new undue burden claim at this stage in the proceedings because Missouri lacked fair notice of the claim based on the complaint itself. On the merits, the court held that the statute's requirement that every woman seeking an abortion in Missouri must first receive a state-authored informed-consent book does not violate the Establishment Clause because alignment to a religious belief alone is not enough to show a violation. The court also held that the requirement that plaintiff certify that she had a chance to view an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to the procedure and that she received the informed consent booklet does not violate her free-exercise rights. In this case, plaintiff makes no argument that the informed-consent law is anything other than neutral and generally applicable.