BURLINGTON, Vt. — A Vermont man has filed suit against state and federal government entities as he says that he is wrongly being forced to choose between his pro-life beliefs and obtaining insurance coverage.
Alan Howe,63, filed the legal challenge after finding that all of the health care plans in Vermont require a $1 per month surcharge that goes to fund abortion coverage. There are no exceptions.
“No one actually discloses to you that you are paying this separate abortion fee because they just roll it into the general premium, but everyone in Vermont is being required to pay this separate abortion fee in order to enroll in a plan,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Casey Mattox told reporters.
Vermont is among several other states—Rhode Island, New Jersey and Hawaii—that do not provide any alternative plans without the abortion surcharge.
“That’s the case in Vermont and a few other states,” he outlined to OneNewsNow. “And people aren’t even aware that that’s the case that they’re being forced to pay for abortions in violation of their conscience.”
While Howe is required to obtain health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, he filed suit since he could not enroll in good conscience without being offered a plan that doesn’t require that he pay for abortions.
He appeared in court this week for the first hearing over the matter. According to local television station WCAX, Caroline Wolverton, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, told the court that the Obama administration asked insurance providers to waive the surcharge for Howe, but they refused.
“No one should be required to violate their conscience in order to receive the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and enroll in a plan,” Mattox told the outlet.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me that an insurer who has the option of not having to charge someone an unnecessary abortion payment that the defendants were forcing them to charge would say, we aren’t going to accommodate this 63-year-old man,” he said.
While the case moves forward in court, Howe is asking that he not be punished for failing to enroll in an insurance plan as required under federal law.
U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss is expected to make a decision in 30 days. In the meantime, both sides will remain in talks to see if a settlement can be reached in the matter.
By the year 2017, all states must offer at least one plan that does not include abortion coverage.