California churches that oppose abortion coverage in their insurance plan still have hope for resolution in spite of a federal edict this week.
For two years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sat on a request for a decision on California's edict that every health insurance plan provide coverage for elective abortions. That request came after the California Department of Managed Health Care ordered several companies to alter their plans.
According to attorney Catherine Short with Life Legal Defense Foundation, that would appear to violate the Weldon Amendment.
"The Weldon Amendment does not invoke religious freedom," explains LLDF's vice president of legal affairs. "It says that it's a matter of discrimination that no state or any of its subdivisions may discriminate against a healthcare provider or insurer or anyone who chooses not to provide coverage."
The attorney argues that the law is very clear on the issue – it's discrimination; and the Obama administration, she adds, is holding its agenda above the Weldon Amendment.
But all is not lost, says Jeremiah Galus, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom.
"Because the HHS sat on this for approximately two years, those churches went ahead and filed federal lawsuits," he tells OneNewsNow. "So we have two federal lawsuits pending [that are] challenging the constitutionality of this mandate ... issued by the State of California."
One lawsuit points out the California agency issued its edict without subjecting it to the Knox-Keene Act, from which it derives its authority – and which requires public notice and comment.