Human Rights

Catholic university employees forced to fund abortion file federal discrimination complaint

If this abortion drama had a theme song it would be “We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore.” This is the anthem of Loyola Marymount University (LMU), a  Catholic school in California. LMU chose to enact its Catholic faith and conscience and not fund employee abortion in its health care plans–only to be told last month by the California Department of Managed  Healthcare  (DMHC) it had to it anyway.

This week, Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a complaint with the United States Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of  seven LMU employees who are fighting back against being forced to participate in abortion-supporting health care plans, explaining that because of the federal Weldon Amendment, “This directive of the DMHC constitutes unlawful discrimination against a health care entity…. Nothing in California law or the state’s constitution requires private health plans to cover abortions.”

The complaint to HHS, dated September 10, is entitled “Complaint for Discrimination in Violation of Federal Conscience Protections.” It asserts that:

“DMHC ordered elective abortion coverage into the Complainants’ own LMU health plan…..This directive of the DMHC constitutes unlawful discrimination against a healthcare entity…. DMHC is subject[ing] Complainants’ “health insurance plan” to “discrimination,” by denying its approval of the plan that omitted elective abortions solely “on the basis that the [plan] does not… provide coverage of… abortions.”

The complaint notes that:

“This directive of the DMHC constitutes unlawful discrimination against a health care entity…. Nothing in California law or the state’s constitution requires private health plans to cover abortions.”

LLDF Legal Director Catherine Short said:

“Under federal law, pro-life employers have the freedom to choose health insurance plans that do not conflict with their beliefs on the dignity of human life. Already under Obamacare’s mandates, employers and individuals are required to purchase health insurance coverage they may not need or want. California cannot be allowed to discriminate against health plans that don’t cover elective abortions and force people to purchase coverage that conflicts with their convictions.”

ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox adds that it comes down to the state of California vs. federal law, which he said California is violating: “No state can ignore federal law and continue to unlawfully receive taxpayer money. So California has a choice: Stop forcing these employers to cover abortion or forfeit the tens of billions of dollars it receives under the condition that it follow the law.”

That debate has been the ultimate pro-life debate of the Affordable Care Act, which has already made its way to the Supreme Court with the Hobby Lobby case which addressed employers being forced to provide abortifacient birth control. California has taken the conflict a step further by outright forcing even Catholic institutions to provide health care that covers elective abortions. And LMU employees are fed up with being railroaded and bullied by the abortion-happy state whose DMHC director actually stated: “Abortion is a basic health care service.” Those words last month from director Michelle Rouillard were followed by a rather ironic statement. Announcing the reversal to allow the Catholic schools to opt out of abortion-providing plans, Rouillard said:

“The California Constitution prohibits health plans from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy. Thus, all health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”

In essence, the state of California says that because some women want abortions for any reason, all Californians should pay for them in their insurance plans–even those who used to have conscience protections for their deeply held religious beliefs and work at private religious institutions founded upon those beliefs.

Those LMU employees say there’s nothing “neutral” about that decision, so they’re fighting back for a basic right to exercise their conscience and religious freedom by not participating in the elective death of the unborn.

Now it’s in the courts of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

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