California Churches Continue Battling State Mandate to Fund Abortions

State   |   Alliance Defending Freedom   |   Apr 27, 2015   |   4:41PM   |   Sacramento, CA

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox will testify Tuesday before the California State Assembly’s Committee on Health regarding Assembly Bill 1254. The bill would reverse the California Department of Managed Health Care’s mandate that all employers, even churches, include elective abortion in their health insurance plans.

“Churches and other religious employers should not be coerced by the government into violating their fundamental beliefs by being party to elective abortion,” said Mattox. “When Congress enacted the Weldon Amendment, it sought to ensure that the government could never strong-arm pro-life employers into paying for abortion coverage. California is blatantly ignoring federal law and pushing its abortion ideology on citizens while still receiving taxpayer money.”

In October 2014, ADF and Life Legal Defense Foundation filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the California mandate. ADF and LLDF represent seven California churches that object to providing their pastoral staff and other employees insurance plans covering elective abortions and allege that DMHC’s coercion of abortion coverage violates federal law.

In September 2014, ADF and LLDF filed a separate complaint with HHS on behalf of employees at Loyola Marymount University who also do not want to be forced into paying for a health plan that covers abortions. The previous month, ADF and LLDF lodged a letter with DMHC itself warning it of its violation of federal law. DMHC responded by affirming its decision to force all plans to cover all abortions without explaining how that decision squares with a federal law that insists otherwise.

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“The DMHC Order is without legal basis, violates federal law, and threatens to jeopardize a significant part of California’s federal funding,” Mattox will explain in his testimony. “Assembly Bill 1254 would simply restore the status quo ante and ensure California’s continued compliance with its obligations under the Weldon Amendment. It would not prohibit insurers from covering any legal health service, but religious employers would remain free, as before, to contract for insurance plans that did not require them to pay for abortions.”

Calvary Chapel Chino Hills Pastor Jack Hibbs will also testify.