Abortion Rights Line Moves to Churches in California
Health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions, state insurance officials have ruled.
A decision was made and announced last year by two Roman Catholic Universities in California, not to cover, as part of their healthcare plan, elective abortions. Some faculty members at Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University objected to this decision and asked Governor Jerry Brown to intercede on their behalf.
Although the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage, the director of California’s Department of Managed Health Care, Michelle Rouillard, said in a letter to seven insurance companies that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all “medically necessary” care. Suddenly in California an elective abortion is considered a “medically necessary” procedure.
“Abortion is a basic health care service,” the director wrote to the seven insurance companies that refused to offer coverage. “All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”
She asserted that abortion must be covered because the “California Constitution prohibits health plans from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy,” and also cited a 1975 law surrounding “medically necessary” health care.
A federal complaint has now been filed on behalf of the churches in California who object to a recent order by the state that would force all faith-based employers to offer abortion coverage regardless of their religious beliefs.
This puts the contraception mandate to shame.
Thanks to a newly enforced regulation in California, abortion is now a “basic health care service” in the state. The Federalist’s Casey Mattox reported the unfortunate news:
California’s Department of Managed Health Care has ordered all insurance plans in the state to immediately begin covering elective abortion. Not Plan B. Not contraceptives. Elective surgical dismemberment abortion.
Churches inevitably fall under the “all” category. Besides the human rights issue of abortion is the religious freedom issue. Forcing churches to fund the procedure is a direct violation of their First Amendment rights. Unlike the Christian-owned arts and crafts company Hobby Lobby and its fight against the contraception mandate (which the former thankfully won this summer), the situation in California puts actual religious institutions up against a mandate that would force them to fund abortion in an even more direct route.
In a bit of sad irony, churches in California are exempt from having to fund chemical abortions. Mattox touched on the baffling situation:
This leaves California churches in the illogical and impossible position of being free to exclude contraceptives from their health plan for reasons of religious conscience but required to provide their employees with abortion coverage.
The non-profit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom and the public interest Life Legal Defense Foundation have filed formal complaints against the mandate with the Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights.
“Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being” (“Donum vitae,” 5).