In August 2014, California officials said health insurance plans must start covering abortion but didn’t include religious exemptions for churches that are opposed to the practice.
Now, according to the Washington Examiner, Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has been asked by two congressional panels to get the Obama administration to act with “due speed” as they weigh a complaint filed in October by seven evangelical churches.
The complaint explains, “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…. 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. 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.”
The churches that filed the complaint were 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.
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As LifeNews previously reported, two California Catholic universities–Santa Clara and Loyola–also said they didn’t want to include “elective” abortions in their health insurance policies. However, state insurance officials ruled that companies may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions, even if it goes against their faith.
The director of California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), Michelle Rouillard, said in a letter to seven insurance companies that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. She said, “Abortion is a basic health care service. All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”
Life Legal Defense Foundation Legal Director, Catherine Short, said that DMHC created this abortion mandate in response to political pressure from the abortion lobby. She said, “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.”
Casey Mattox, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, added, ““Forcing a church to be party to elective abortion is one of the utmost-imaginable assaults on our most fundamental American freedoms. 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.”