New York is Trying to Force the Catholic Church to Pay for Abortions, The Church is Fighting Back

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 13, 2016   |   5:57PM   |   Albany, NY

New York is the second state that is attempting to force churches to pay for abortions in their employee health insurance plans.

According to the Catholic News Service, New York Catholic churches and agencies filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Financial Services on May 4, challenging two state abortion mandates.

A group of California churches currently are involved in a legal battle against a similar state mandate. 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.

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The New York case similarly forces religious employers to fund abortions. In a statement, Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said the state gave them no choice but to bring the lawsuit against the mandates.

“Anyone of goodwill who values religious liberty or our country’s cherished freedoms should be deeply concerned by the actions of the state,” Scharfenberger said. “The Department of Financial Services, without any authority by the Legislature, has taken it upon itself to force religious organizations and individuals with strong conscientious objection to abortion to fund this procedure which, in every case, kills a developing unique human person.”

CNS reports more about the lawsuit:

The suit refers to two distinct mandates on insurance providers. In one, the Department of Financial Services, which regulates the insurance industry, issued “model language” to insurers that requires their individual and small group health plans include coverage of so-called “therapeutic” and “nontherapeutic” abortions.

The suit charges: “The model language abortion mandate directly coerces religious employers, religiously affiliated employers, objecting secular employers and individuals to fund, provide and cooperate with the morally offensive procedure.”

A second mandate, which was previously undisclosed by the financial services division, came to light only during plaintiffs’ communications with that department objecting to the “model language” mandate.

In the undisclosed mandate, plaintiffs charge, abortion coverage “is encrypted in health insurance contracts under the rubric of ‘medically necessary’ surgery. This hidden coverage was never disclosed to plaintiffs or other employers who may have conscience, moral or religious objections to abortion.”

A state department spokesperson said they are reviewing the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed by the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Albany and Ogdensburg, trustees of the Albany Episcopal Diocese, Catholic Charities of the Brooklyn Diocese, the St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church Society of Amherst, First Bible Baptist Church in Rochester, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Albany, a Plattsburgh construction company and a Saratoga County woman who works for a religious organization, according to ABC News.