Some California churches continue to fight a mandate forcing them to provide abortion coverage in their health insurance plans.
Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, and The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch are asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear their case against the California Department of Managed Health Care. A federal district judge ruled against the churches in 2017.
"It's blatantly unconstitutional," says attorney Jeremiah Galus of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization representing the churches. "It's rather uncontroversial that churches should be free to operate according to their faith without being threatened by the government, and it's also not very controversial to say that it's wrong to force a church, or anyone else for that matter, to participate in the funding of abortion, especially when their religious beliefs teach that that is the taking of an innocent human life."
ADF attorneys say they have emails showing the Department issued its mandate in response to specific demands from Planned Parenthood.
"Those demands asked agency officials to implement a 'fix' requiring the health plans of religious organizations to include coverage for abortion, regardless of moral or conscientious objections and despite state recognition up to that point that religious groups shouldn't be subject to such requirements," ADF says on its website. "The abortion giant threatened to promote its own legislative 'solution' if the administrative agency didn't act, so DMHC issued its mandate in 2014."
Washington recently passed a law requiring all healthcare plans to cover abortions.
"We've actually filed a separate lawsuit in Washington federal court on behalf of Cedar Park Church challenging Washington's mandate," Galus says.