Churches in California are headed to court on Friday to fight an onerous state regulation that requires them to pay for abortions.
Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing three churches in the case Foothill Church v. Rouillard, will ask a federal court to allow the lawsuit against California to proceed. The troubling situation began in 2014 when the California Department of Managed Health Care reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical abortions immediately. Even churches are not exempt from funding abortions.
The churches filed a lawsuit against the regulation last October, and it has been moving through the courts.
Jeremiah Galus, legal counsel for ADF, said in a statement: “The government shouldn’t be forcing churches to pay for the killing of innocent human life. These churches have no way to avoid paying for abortions because Obamacare requires health insurance coverage, and the California mandate requires abortion coverage in any health plan. What’s bizarre, though, is that the same government that quite rightfully does not require California churches to pay for contraceptive coverage nonetheless requires them to pay for elective abortion coverage. We trust the court will allow the churches to proceed with challenging this obviously inconsistent and unconstitutional mandate.”
The lawsuit is on behalf of Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, and The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, according to ADF. In 2014, ADF and Life Legal Defense Foundation filed formal complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services against DMHC regarding California’s mandate and its violation of federal conscience law. Those came on the heels of a complaint filed directly with DMHC, which responded by affirming its decision to force all plans to cover all abortions without any explanation as to how that decision squares with the Constitution and contrasting federal law.
More than a year ago the Obama Administration promised to investigate the California order that forces churches to fund abortions through health insurance plans. Despite the repeated urging of pro-life lawmakers and religious groups in California to act on that promise, the administration appears to be doing nothing.
In December 2014, the California Catholic Conference filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, which is tasked with enforcing the amendment. The department promised to open an investigation; but a year has gone by, and the department has not taken action, The Hill reported.
In February, pro-life leaders in Congress called on the administration to perform its duty to enforce the federal Weldon Amendment, which protects insurers from discrimination if they decline to cover or refer for abortions. Tied to the Weldon Amendment is the consequence of losing federal funding if a state does not comply. California could lose billions of dollars in federal funding if it is found in violation of the amendment, according to the report.
Earlier this month, federal leaders took another stand against the onerous measure when it blocked one of Obama’s Health and Human Services nominees, Townhall editor Courtney O’Brien reported at LifeNews. The Senate Finance Committee refused to approve the nominee until the Obama administration fulfills its promise to investigate the California order.