The state of California is using Obamacare regulations to impose its own belief system on faith-based abortion opponents, charges a new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.
The case was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Foothill Church of Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills and Shepherd of the Hills Church of Porter Ranch.
Named as defendant is the state Department of Managed Health Care Director Michelle Rouillard, who, the plaintiffs contend, is “forcing churches to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans.”
“Churches should not be forced to pay for the killing of innocent human life,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the organization. “The government has no right to demand that church health insurance plans contain coverage for abortion – something that violates these churches’ most sincerely held religious beliefs.
“California is violating the Constitution by strong-arming churches into having this coverage in their plans,” Stanley said.
The case is just the latest against Obamacare, the massive system of government control over citizens’ lives and health practices adopted only by Democrats in Congress.
The case follows lawsuits filed by ADF and Life Legal Defense Foundation last year against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over California’s mandate and “its violation of federal conscience law.”
The churches contend the state has not explained how enforcing the mandate “squares with the Constitution and contrasting federal law.”
“Because Obamacare requires health insurance coverage, and the California mandate requires abortion coverage in any health plan, these churches are truly left with no way to opt out of paying for abortions,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Jeremiah Galus.
“What’s absurd, though, is that the same government that rightfully does not require California churches to pay for contraceptive coverage requires them to pay for elective abortion coverage.”
Galus said Californians “should not be forced to choose between following their deepest convictions and submitting to unlawful and unnecessary government mandates.”
“Elective abortions are not part of ‘basic health care,'” he said. “They have no business being forced into the medical coverage provided by churches that do not wish to support terminating lives due to very real, sincere and well-known faith convictions. We hope the court will require California to follow the Constitution and respect these churches’ fundamental freedoms.”
The complaint explains the plaintiffs believe, “as a matter of religious conviction, that it would be sinful and immoral for them intentionally to pay for, participate in, facilitate, or otherwise support abortion, which they believe destroys innocent human life.”
The complaint also contends the violation of religious freedom was deliberate.
“Defendant imposed the mandate with full knowledge that it would coerce religious employers and churches like plaintiffs to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
That has “created an untenable situation where plaintiffs and other religious employers do not have to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives and infertility treatments but must provide coverage for voluntary and elective abortions.”
Rouillard instructed the insurance companies to make the change without letting churches or religious organizations comment, or even know, about it, the complaint argues.
“Realizing that plaintiffs and others have sincerely held religious beliefs against paying for or providing coverage for abortion, defendant encouraged the insurers to hide these changes by informing them that they may ‘omit any mention of coverage for abortion services in health plan documents.'”
Evidence that Rouillard was specifically targeting churches, the complaint says, was demonstrated by the fact that the mandate “does not apply to health benefit plans offered by the California Public Employees Retirement System and other policies.”
“Defendant designed the mandate to make it impossible for plaintiffs to comply with their religious beliefs,” the complaint charges.
To do that, the lawsuit alleges, California ignored the requirements that accompany “approximately $70 billion in federal funds for programs under the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act.”
Those mandates, the lawsuit explained, ban discrimination by the state on the basis “that the health care entity does not provide for, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”
It cites violations of the First Amendment and creates a pages-long list of damages, including chilling religious exercise, a government-imposed coercion regarding religious beliefs and exposing the plaintiffs them to damages and penalties.
“Defendant issued the mandate to suppress the religious exercise of plaintiffs and other similarly situated churches and religious employers,” it states.
Further, it imposes a government religion, the complaint asserts.
“The mandate adopts a particular theological view of what is acceptable moral complicity in provisions of abortion and imposes it upon all churches and religious employers who must either conform their consciences or suffer penalty,” it alleges. “The mandate unconstitutionally prefers those religions and denominations that do not have religious objections to abortion and exhibits hostility toward those that do by forcing them to pay for abortions in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The action seeks a permanent injunction against enforcement of the government’s belief system.
ADF said the “concern of many pro-life Californians about being compelled by the government to pay for elective abortions has only been enhanced recently by the knowledge that some of those aborted children may have had their body parts sold for profit.”
“The revelation came in authenticated videos from the California-based Center for Medical Progress that showed officials of StemExpress, a California company, and California Planned Parenthood executives discussing a scheme to harvest and sell the body parts of aborted babies.”