At “the bidding of Planned Parenthood,” California bureaucrats forced churches and religious organizations to pay for abortions through their health-insurance plans, according to a series of emails obtained in a lawsuit.
Three churches filed a notice of appeal Thursday with the 9th Circuit in their complaint against the California Department of Managed Health Care’s requirement.
The emails obtained by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys who represent the churches show Planned Parenthood demanding the agency require that the health plans of religious organizations include coverage for abortion, regardless of moral or conscientious objections.
ADF argues the state, up to that point, recognized that religious groups should not be subject to such requirements.
Planned Parenthood, the emails show, threatened to promote its own legislative “solution” if the agency didn’t act.
Consequently, DMHC issued its abortion mandate in 2014.
“The government shouldn’t be forcing churches to pay for abortion, and it is shameful and inappropriate that the government did so in this case at the bidding of Planned Parenthood,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremiah Galus.
He argued California officials are required to follow the law and legal precedent, “not the dictates of groups that have an axe to grind against religious organizations that don’t share their views on abortion.”
“We are asking the 9th Circuit to strike down this obviously unconstitutional mandate,” he said.
In the lawsuit, Foothill Church v. Rouillard, ADF attorneys represent Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino and The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch.
Planned Parenthood pressure
In one email, Planned Parenthood’s chief legal counsel, Beth Park, emailed Shelley Rouillard, the director of DMHC, requesting “another meeting” to “discuss plans that are excluding abortion coverage.”
A short time later, Brianna Pittman of Planned Parenthood told another state official a meeting was needed to determine if “there is a regulatory/administrative fix or if legislation is needed.”
Planned Parenthood already had legislation prepared, she explained.
Pittman was upset because Catholic universities “are excluding certain types of services” from health plans that already had state approval.
Days later, Pittman told the state it must “not approve any further plans that exclude coverage for abortion or other reproductive health care.”
“This includes a clarification that there is no such thing as an elective or voluntary abortion exclusion.”
And she insisted the state must “rescind their approval of the Anthem Blue Cross & Kaiser plans (along with any other plans that include an abortion exclusion) so that those two providers cannot offer plans to employers in the future that will exclude abortion.”
ADF said the state “issued its mandate in response to specific demands from Planned Parenthood.”
At the time the case began in 2014, the Obamacare abortion-coverage mandate was the subject of more than 100 federal lawsuits. Two cases, Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor, made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled the government cannot force religious groups and Christian employers who have moral objections to abortion to fund its consequences.
Last week, a federal court in Denver issued an order barring the government from imposing its abortion-payment mandate on James Dobson’s Family Talk Radio. Dobson had famously warned Barack Obama at the time that the rules were being imposed that he would not submit to such a rule.
He told Obama to come and get him if he must.