Satanic Temple sues Alabama billboard company over ad rejection

The Satanic Temple said it is suing an Alabama billboard company over its rejection of an ad that targeted anti-abortion counseling centers.

The plan called for eight billboards in Arkansas and Indiana near crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women against abortion. The billboards are owned by Lamar Advertising, based in Birmingham.

The billboards would have contained messages comparing a fertilized human egg, which it called “not a baby,” to cake batter, which it called “not a cake.”

The Satanic Temple says it has a religious abortion ritual that women getting an abortion can perform, which makes them exempt from complying with state regulations such as mandatory waiting periods and compulsory counseling. It argues that Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in many states “protect religious practices and beliefs from government interference.”

The Satanic Temple provides a downloadable letter of exemption from abortion regulations based on religious belief. The religious abortion ritual it provides includes the personal affirmation, “By my body, my blood, by my will it is done.”

The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Mass., says that after it submitted the artwork to Lamar Advertising, Lamar rejected all four proposed designs. Lamar’s contract says that they may reject or remove any billboard that is not “in good taste and in line with the moral standards of the individual communities in which it is to be displayed.”

Lamar informed the Satanic Temple that all of the content was objectionable. The Satanic Temple alleges that Lamar engaged in religious discrimination, acted in bad faith and deprived it of the ability to advertise its religious abortion ritual because Lamar “holds a monopoly” over much of the U.S. billboard market.

“While it is understandable to be concerned with forcing a private entity to engage in speech or conduct it objects to, this scenario is different,” said Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple. “Lamar initially agreed to work with us and their rejection appears to be religiously based. In addition, they have a virtual monopoly in certain regions. In this way, Lamar is able to regulate public speech and they are not permitted to selectively exclude religious voices they object to.” has contacted Lamar, but officials did not immediately comment.

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Alabama governor extends pandemic rule requiring face masks


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Kay Ivey and health officials extended an order requiring face masks in public Wednesday, arguing that the requirement — while unpopular among many — has proven effective at helping control the state’s coronavirus outbreak.

The five-week extension, announced during a Capitol news conference, means the mask requirement will be in effect on Election Day and through much of the remaining high school and college football seasons.

Ending the mask ordinance could harm the state by leading to a “false sense of security,” Ivey said, and a “safe environment” is needed for in-person voting.

The mask rule, which took effect in mid-July, was set to expire Friday but will continue through Nov. 8 under a health order released by Ivey. It requires anyone over the age of 6 to wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when it’s impossible to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others.

In a move aimed at combatting isolation among people in nursing homes and hospitals, residents and patients will now be allowed one visitor or caregiver at a time.

More than 2,500 people in Alabama have died of COVID-19, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, giving the state the nation’s 21st high death count. Alabama has reported 153,554 positive results out of 1.1 million tests for an overall positivity rate of 13.7%, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

But the illness caused by the new coronavirus has spread at a slower pace since the state enacted the

Alabama Confirms 494 New Coronavirus Cases, 16 Deaths

MONTGOMERY, AL — Alabama reported about the same number of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as it did Monday, as the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 494 new cases of the virus overnight.

The state also confirmed 16 deaths from the virus in Tuesday’s report.

The ADPH also added 77 probable cases to its total. In all, Alabama has reported 136,549 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 17,005 probable cases.

“Confirmed and probable cases are investigated and contacts identified in the same manner. As more antigen diagnostic testing has been approved under emergency use authorized by FDA, the number of probable cases in Alabama continues to increase,” ADPH said in a statement. “More healthcare providers, including physicians’ offices, urgent cares, and some emergency rooms, are using antigen testing. Thus, ADPH has revised some charts and graphs on its dashboard to capture the most current situation for COVID-19 in Alabama.”

More than 1.1 million diagnostic tests have been administered in the state, and 58,235 antibody tests, according to the ADPH. Of the 136,549 confirmed cases of the virus in Alabama, 64,583 are presumed to have recovered.

“Rapid antigen tests, while diagnostic tests, are counted as probable due to antigen tests showing lower ability to determine if a person has SARS-CoV-2,” the ADPH said. “In other words, point of care antigen tests are less sensitive and show more false negative results than laboratory performed PCR tests. Point of care antigen testing can be useful where there are high rates of SARS-CoV-2. As more rapid point of care testing is performed for SARS-CoV-2, ADPH is working to remind entities to report all testing done, both positive and negative, to ensure that ADPH testing numbers reflect accuracy of percent positive testing.”


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This article originally appeared on the Birmingham Patch

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A suicidal teen needed help. In Alabama, she found nothing but hurdles

On Sept. 24, 2019, Gina Moses received an unusual phone call from her teenage daughter. The girl was on vacation in Las Vegas and wanted her health insurance information.

When Moses asked why, everything tumbled out: The fight with her boyfriend, the suicide attempt and the trip to the emergency room. She called her mom from the hospital bed.

“She begged me to come get her,” Moses said. “She told me that she just wanted to come home.”

Moses lives in Albertville with her husband and two younger children. Within hours, she was on her way to Nevada.

“I stop and breathe and then pray for my daughter and for our family,” Moses wrote in a journal. “I pray for a safe trip to Vegas. I pray that I handle this in the right way to where it doesn’t affect the little ones.”

Moses and the teen spent the night in the same downtown Las Vegas hotel room where her daughter tried to take her life. When the boyfriend came back, the teen changed her mind about returning to Alabama.

“At that point, I realized just how delusional she was,” Moses said. “It was like she didn’t realize I had just flown all the way across the country to take her home.”

In Alabama, the daughter’s therapist said she would need residential treatment to learn how to subdue self-destructive thoughts. Under Moses’ insurance plan, the family’s out-of-pocket costs capped out at $875.

Then a problem emerged. Although the insurance plan covered residential mental health treatment, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama wouldn’t approve payment for the types of private programs the girl’s therapist recommended.

Her issues mirror those of other insurance customers nationwide who struggle to get access to mental health benefits, in spite of two federal laws passed to make it easier to get coverage. Such challenges have persisted despite rising rates of suicide across the nation and in Alabama.

In Alabama, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people in their teens and early twenties, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Alabama also has the nation’s smallest mental health workforce per capita, according to the United Health Foundation, and the least competitive insurance market. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama covers nearly 3 million people, or 86 percent of the private insurance market in the state, according to the American Medical Association. That leaves Alabamians with few options for care and coverage of life-threatening mental illness.

“Do I think we would have had a second suicide attempt if we had been able to get residential treatment the first time around?” Moses asked. “No. She would have been there six months and she would have been over it.”

Guidelines and gatekeepers

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama uses Kansas-based New Directions Behavioral Health to manage its mental health network and benefits.

New Directions acts as the gatekeeper for several Blue Cross plans, said Meiram Bendat, a California attorney involved in a lawsuit against the company.