California cannot require churches that believe in the sanctity of life to provide health insurance coverage for abortions, a federal court has heard.
District Chief Judge Kimberly Mueller said it was unconstitutional for the state to deny churches an exemption on grounds of religious belief from “elective abortion coverage” for their employees.
The case was brought by three churches which all believe that human life “is sacred and worthy of protection from conception”.
“Abortion is a sin”
In April, the churches asked the court to rule against California’s abortion insurance mandate as a violation of First Amendment rights to religious freedom.
The documents filed with the district court stated: “Churches believe that abortion is sinful and clearly contrary to their Christian beliefs.”
Therefore, the document continues, “they cannot pay for or facilitate elective abortion coverage in their employees’ health care plans.”
Judge Mueller found no compelling reason for the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) to deny religious exemptions for employers regarding abortion coverage.
ADF attorneys, who represented the churches, uncovered a series of emails in which abortion giant Planned Parenthood pressured the DMHC to deny churches an exemption.
An email urged the DMHC not to “endorse any other plans that exclude coverage for abortion or other reproductive health care services.”
“This includes a clarification that there is no exclusion of elective or voluntary abortion.”
Welcoming the court’s decision, ADF lead attorney Jeremiah Galus said, “The government cannot force a church or any other religious employer to violate their faith and conscience by helping to fund the ‘abortion”.
In 2014, California advised health insurance companies that policy coverage for abortion, classified by the state as a “basic health care service,” should be mandatory for all employers, including churches.
The mandate came despite the Hobby Lobby case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court backed a Christian-run company that wanted to provide health insurance policies consistent with its pro-life beliefs.
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