Churches Tell Supreme Court to Stop New York From Forcing Them to Fund Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 17, 2021   |   9:39AM   |   Washington, DC

Churches and religious charities in New York are asking the U.S. Supreme Court for relief from a state mandate that forces them to cover life-destroying, unnecessary abortions in their employee health insurance plans.

In a brief submitted in April, the Catholic and Protestant ministries told the high court that the mandate puts them in an “intolerable position”; the state is forcing them to choose between paying for the killing of unborn babies in abortions or giving up their ministries of helping people in need.

National Review reports the 2017 regulation from the New York Department of Financial Services is similar to the Obamacare contraception mandate. It has a very narrow religious exemption that excludes religious organizations that employ and/or serve people who are not of the same religion.

“New York has told us that if we want to hold our beliefs about the sanctity of life, we have to stop serving non-Anglicans,” said Mother Miriam, of the Sisterhood of Saint Mary, the oldest Anglican religious order founded in America, previously. “We cannot compromise on our religious beliefs, or in our service to people of all faiths or no faith at all.”

The Carmelite Sisters at the Teresian Nursing Home and the First Bible Baptist Church are other parties in the case. They also run charities that serve people in need, no matter what their religious beliefs are, the report states.

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The Supreme Court has not decided if it will hear their case yet, and the lower courts have not ruled favorably toward the people of faith. According to National Review, lower court judges ruled in favor of the state, arguing that the pro-abortion regulation does not specifically “target” religion.

Mother Miriam said they need relief from the Supreme Court so that they can continue to serve people in need without discrimination, including those not yet born.

“Our faith tells us that every life is precious from the moment of conception to the final breath,” she said.

Here’s more from the report:

This case is yet another milestone on the long list of recent court battles over religious liberty, and, in particular, it’s part of the unfortunate legacy of the legal fights over the HHS contraceptive mandate. Although both the Little Sisters of the Poor and the owners of Hobby Lobby won at the Supreme Court, the Court’s jurisprudence has left room for states to continue enforcing similar mandates in some circumstances.

In his concurrence in last summer’s Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, Justice Samuel Alito noted that, though the decision had come down in favor of the Catholic nuns on procedural grounds, the majority had missed an opportunity to rule that the First Amendment required a robust religious exemption for them.

According to PJ Media, the mandate requires New York employers to cover all “medically necessary abortions.” However, the state’s definition includes abortions that are not actually medically necessary, such as abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome.

Without relief, the charities and churches said they will be forced to either stop providing health insurance to their employees or close.

The charities and churches involved in the case include the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Albany and Ogdensburg; the Anglican Sisterhood of St. Mary; the Brooklyn, Albany, and Ogdensburg chapters of Catholic Charities; St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church Society of Amherst; First Bible Baptist Church; Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Albany; the Carmelite charity Teresian House Nursing Home Company; the Catholic senior living nonprofit Depaul Housing Management Corporation; and Renee Morgiewicz.

The case is Diocese of Albany v. Lacewell.