In the aftermath of COVID-19 related religious liberty lawsuits, the Thomas More Society has now sue the State of Illinois to challenge a law requiring all health insurance policies sold in the state provide coverage for elective chemical and surgical abortions, with no exemptions even for churches.
On June 10, 2020, the Thomas More Society filed a complaint in the Sangamon County Circuit Court, charging the state with abuses of the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act in relation to the abortion insurance mandate. The case was filed on behalf of a Baptist church association, a dental practice and its owner, and a freight company and its owner. The lawsuit charges that Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, the Department of Insurance, and its director, Robert Muriel, have refused to protect the plaintiffs’ sincerely held religious beliefs, which forbid them from funding and providing coverage for elective abortions.
Under an expansive abortion law that was passed with a straight party-lines vote by Democratic state legislators and Governor Pritzker, the “Reproductive Health Act” mandates that every health insurance plan in Illinois that provides pregnancy-related benefits must also provide coverage for abortion. The law, rushed through the legislature over the 2019 Memorial Day weekend, requires private health insurance companies to cover abortion procedures, giving everyone who participates financially in that plan – employees, employers, and the company – no way to opt out.
“Radical partisans have forced employers of faith in Illinois into a terrible choice: either pay for the intentional termination of unborn children, or leave your employees’ families and your own without health insurance,” explained Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel. “The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly condemned this sort of government coercion against people of faith, including in the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. decision. Illinois law protects the sincerely held beliefs of our state’s nonprofits and businesses, but our state’s politicians and bureaucrats have sat silent in response to the conscientious objections of people of faith to paying for elective abortions.”
The case seeks judicial review of the abortion coverage mandate, asking the court to declare it unlawful, and also asks for an injunction prohibiting the State of Illinois from enforcing the abortion coverage requirements against these employers and their health insurance providers.
“This forced coverage of abortion is a blatant violation of the religious and conscience rights of Illinoisans,” explained Breen. “While the secular forces behind this mandate often erroneously object to any influence of religion on the state, here they had no hesitation in wielding state power against our sincerely held, common-sense religious beliefs, which compel us to avoid paying for health insurance coverage of abortion.”
“Governor Pritzker and his administration have run roughshod over the religious freedoms of Illinoisans, from shuttering churches during COVID-19, to forcing people of faith to pay for elective abortions,” declared Breen. “The people of Illinois shouldn’t have to sue to have their fundamental religious rights recognized, but just as we succeeded in reopening our state’s churches through vigorous court actions, we will fight this abortion insurance mandate until it is reversed.”
The Thomas More Society, a national nonprofit public interest law firm and major force in the Constitutional defense of religious liberty, is seeking judicial correction of Illinois’ violations of religious liberty for the nonprofit Illinois Baptist Association, Flossmoor dental practice Southland Smiles, Ltd, and Sterling-based trucking company, Rock River Cartage. These companies sponsor small group health insurance plans for their employees. This mandate illegally requires these companies to purchase health insurance policies that cover abortions.
Read the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief filed June 10, 2020, by the Thomas More Society on behalf of the Illinois Baptist State Association, Southland Smiles and its owner Dr. Richard Mantoan, and Rock River Cartage and its owner Curt House, in Circuit Court for the County of Sangamon State of Illinois, here.
This video contains statements for two of the plaintiffs, the Illinois Baptist State Association In Springfield, and Dr. Richard Mantoan, dentist and owner of Southland Smiles in Flossmoor.