A federal complaint has been filed on behalf of seven churches in California who object to a recent order by the state that would force all faith-based employers to offer abortion coverage regardless of their religious beliefs.
As previously reported, the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) issued a letter in August requiring all insurance companies in the state to cover abortions, which would force all faith-based organizations to provide coverage despite their convictions, and would leave no way to opt out or choose an alternative plan.
“Abortion is a basic health care service,” director Michelle Rouillard wrote to the seven insurance companies that refused to offer coverage.“All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”
She asserted that abortion must be covered because the “California Constitution prohibits health plans from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy,” and also cited a 1975 law surrounding “medically necessary” health care.
The directive is believed to come as a result of a decision made last year by two Roman Catholic/Jesuit universities in the state, Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University, to no longer pay for abortions, but that employees could buy coverage through a third party. Some faculty members objected to the announcement and called upon Gov. Jerry Brown to intervene.
The Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) soon filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after the DMHC refused to change its decision following written correspondence between the groups.
Now, LLDF and ADF have filed a second complaint with the federal government on behalf of seven churches, one of which operates a Christian school, to again assert that the mandate violates the rights of faith-based employers. Skyline Church in La Mesa, Foothill Church and Foothill Christian School in Glendora, Alpine Christian Fellowship in El Cajon, The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, City View Church in San Diego, Faith Baptist Church in Santa Barbara, and Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino are all being represented in the complaint.
It cited the federal Weldon Amendment, which mandates that a state be forfeited of certain government funds if it “subjects any … health care entity to discrimination” because the entity “does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”
“DMHC is an arm of the State of California and purports to be interpreting and applying the law of California, a state that receives billions of taxpayer dollars,” the complaint read. “California accepted those funds with full knowledge of the requirements of the Weldon Amendment, but it has chosen to ignore this law. The need to remedy this discrimination is urgent because it is immediately depriving Complainants of a health plan that omits elective abortions.”
“Forcing a church to be party to elective abortion is one of the utmost-imaginable assaults on our most fundamental American freedoms,” ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox also stated in a press release about the matter on Thursday. “California is flagrantly violating the federal law that protects employers from being forced into having abortion in their health insurance plans. No state can blatantly ignore federal law and think that it should continue to receive taxpayer money.”
“The DMHC created this abortion mandate in response to political pressure from the abortion lobby,” added LLDF Legal Director Catherine Short. “DMHC would have us believe that, while the legislature exempted these churches from the state’s contraceptive coverage mandate, it nonetheless intended to force them to cover all abortions under the rubric of ‘basic health care.’ This move was a pure power play, and we trust that the Department of Health and Human Services will take the necessary steps to bring the state into compliance with federal law.”