California Churches Challenge Abortion Mandate in Federal Court

Courtney Crandell | WORLD News Service | Updated: Nov 02, 2015

California Churches Challenge Abortion Mandate in Federal Court

Three California churches are suing the state in federal court over last year’s mandate that all employee health insurance cover abortions.

In August 2014, Shelley Rouillard, director of California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), ordered seven insurance companies to cover elective abortion in group plans. The mandate affects churches in California with 50 or more employees because they must provide health insurance for employees under Obamacare. The lawsuit, Foothill Church v. Rouillard, challenges the constitutionality of the mandate.

About one year ago, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Life Legal Defense Foundation filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after already filing a complaint with the DMHC. Now ADF has taken the churches’ complaint to district court on behalf of three plaintiffs: Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, and The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch.

“These churches are truly left with no way to opt out of paying for abortions,” said Jeremiah Galus, ADF litigation staff counsel. “Californians should not be forced to choose between following their deepest convictions and submitting to unlawful and unnecessary government mandates.”

Though the mandate offers no religious exemption for churches, California does provide churches an exemption for covering contraceptives.

DMHC spokesman Roger Butler said the department is currently reviewing the complaint.

Rouillard originally issued the mandate in response to complaints from employees at Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University. The two Catholic colleges had excluded elective abortions from their employee insurance policies.

ADF senior counsel Casey Mattox said last fall California might risk losing federal funding by mandating elective abortion coverage. The Hyde Amendment prohibits using federal tax money to fund abortions, and the Weldon Amendment allows the federal government to withhold funding from states that don’t allow conscience objections in health plans.

“Elective abortions are not part of ‘basic healthcare,’” Galus said. “They have no business being forced into the medical coverage provided by churches that do not wish to support terminating lives due to very real, sincere, and well-known faith convictions. We hope the court will require California to follow the Constitution and respect these churches’ fundamental freedoms.”

Courtesy: WORLD News Service

Publication date: November 2, 2015

California Churches Challenge Abortion Mandate in Federal Court