Today, a federal court announced that it would not allow Foothill Church v. Rouillard to move forward. The case involves three California churches that were asking the state not to force them to pay for elective abortions – but, for now, this terrible regulation will continue to stand.
Religious freedom for churches seems like a no-brainer. But apparently it’s not in California.
In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) announced that it would be requiring all insurance providers in California to provide coverage for elective abortions in their health insurance policies. This came as a surprise to many churches in the state, as no new regulation had been passed. They did not even open the question to public comment.
They delivered the mandate quietly, but its effects were anything but.
This left churches in California with an impossible choice: Either pay for abortions or stop providing health insurance for church employees.
Ironically, the state allows churches to opt out of providing contraceptives – as it should – yet still forces them to pay for elective abortions.
Paying for elective abortions directly violates the Christian belief that human life is sacred and should be protected. On the other hand, choosing not to provide health insurance for church employees would mean the church has to pay crippling fines and penalties under Obamacare. On top of that, these churches feel called to serve and care for their employees, and cancelling their health insurance plans certainly does not fulfill that duty.
That’s not really a choice at all.
The California DMHC has claimed that elective abortions are “basic health care services.” However, existing law and regulations in California define “basic health care services” as services that are “medically necessary.” It’s pretty clear that an elective abortion, which does not treat an injury or cure an illness, is not “medically necessary.”
So, Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit against the California DMHC on behalf of three California churches: Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, and Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch.
It is obvious that state officials overstepped their bounds at both the state and federal level.
There are conscience protections in place at the federal level that make it illegal to discriminate against a health insurance plan because it does not "provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions."
That’s not even mentioning the fact that federal and state law protect the church’s right to free exercise of religion.
ADF will continue to fight for these California churches, and we are currently representing another California church against this regulation, Skyline Wesleyan Church v. California Department of Managed Health Care.
No church should be forced by the government to violate their religious beliefs. And they should especially not be forced to pay for the taking of a human life.
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