Churches forced to cover abortion file federal complaint against Calif. agency

ADF, allies file HHS complaint over California’s violation of federal conscience law
Thursday, October 09, 2014

Attorney sound bite:  Casey Mattox

WASHINGTON – Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom filed a formal complaint Thursday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the California Department of Managed Health Care’s decision to force all employers, including churches, to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans. LLDF and ADF represent seven California churches that object to offering their employees insurance plans covering elective abortions and allege that DMHC’s coercion of abortion coverage violates federal law.

Last month, LLDF and ADF filed a separate complaint with HHS on behalf of employees at Loyola Marymount University that also do not want a health plan that covers abortions. In August, LLDF and ADF lodged a letter with DMHC itself warning it of its violation of federal law. DMHC responded by affirming its decision to force all plans to cover all abortions, without explaining how that decision squares with a federal law insisting otherwise.

“Forcing a church to be party to elective abortion is one of the utmost-imaginable assaults on our most fundamental American freedoms,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “California is flagrantly violating the federal law that protects employers from being forced into having abortion in their health insurance plans. No state can blatantly ignore federal law and think that it should continue to receive taxpayer money.”

LLDF and ADF filed the complaint on behalf of Skyline Church in La Mesa, Foothill Church and Foothill Christian School in Glendora, Alpine Christian Fellowship in El Cajon, The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, City View Church in San Diego, Faith Baptist Church in Santa Barbara, and Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino.

The complaint explains, “DMHC is an arm of the State of California and purports to be interpreting and applying the law of California, a state that receives billions of taxpayer dollars…. California accepted those funds with full knowledge of the requirements of the Weldon Amendment, but it has chosen to ignore this law. The need to remedy this discrimination is urgent because it is immediately depriving Complainants of a health plan that omits elective abortions.”

“The DMHC created this abortion mandate in response to political pressure from the abortion lobby,” said LLDF Legal Director Catherine Short. “DMHC would have us believe that, while the Legislature exempted these churches from the state’s contraceptive coverage mandate, it nonetheless intended to force them to cover all abortions under the rubric of ‘basic health care.’ This move was a pure power play, and we trust that the Department of Health and Human Services will take the necessary steps to bring the state into compliance with federal law.”
  • Op-ed: “California’s abortion insurance mandate spotlights the Left’s 40-year devolution on conscience” by Casey Mattox (, 2014-09-07)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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