Washington State is Trying to Make Churches Pay to Kill Babies in Abortions

State   |   Alliance Defending Freedom   |   Jul 8, 2021   |   3:12PM   |   Olympia, Washington

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Seattle-area Cedar Park Church will be available for media interviews Friday following oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Cedar Park Assembly of God of Kirkland v. Kreidler.

The appeal follows a district court order that dismissed the church’s lawsuit against Washington state officials. The church is challenging a nearly unprecedented state law that forces places of worship to cover elective abortions in their health insurance plans despite religious objections.

“Churches must be free to operate according to their religious convictions, including the belief that human life begins at conception and is sacred,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “Washington state has no legal or constitutional basis to force Cedar Park to provide insurance coverage for abortions—an action that directly contradicts the church’s extensive work in caring for vulnerable individuals.”

The church’s lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Washington State Senate Bill 6219, legislation signed into law in March 2018. This law requires churches to provide coverage for abortion if the church also offers maternity care coverage to its employees or face fines and criminal penalties, including imprisonment.

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“Washington state is violating churches’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to cover abortions in their health plans, contrary to their religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that government hostility toward people of faith is unconstitutional. The government cannot target Cedar Park, or any other church or religious nonprofit, for simply abiding by their legitimate internal policies and deeply held convictions.”

Last year, a 9th Circuit panel cleared the way for a California church’s lawsuit, which ADF attorneys are litigating, to proceed. That lawsuit challenges that state’s abortion-coverage mandate.