Ninth Circuit rules California churches can fight abortion coverage mandate

Planned Parenthood, abortion

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a California church could challenge the state mandate to pay for elective abortion through the church’s health insurance plan. Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Skyline Wesleyan Church in the San Diego area, reports that the case was returned to the district court after the Ninth Circuit found the case had been improperly dismissed.

The opinion issued by the Ninth Circuit states:

We hold that Skyline has suffered an injury in fact. Before the Letters were sent, Skyline had insurance that excluded abortion coverage in a way that was consistent with its religious beliefs. After the Letters were sent, Skyline did not have that coverage, and it has presented evidence that its new coverage violated its religious beliefs. There is nothing hypothetical about the situation.

Other California churches have fought the mandate to pay for elective abortions through their health insurance plans.

READ: California to Office for Civil Rights: We will keep forcing religious institutions to pay for abortions

“Churches should be free to follow their beliefs without unlawful, unjust government mandates,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus, who represented Skyline, following Wednesday’s ruling. “The Department of Managed Health Care shouldn’t be forcing churches to pay for elective abortions. The agency has unconstitutionally targeted religious organizations, repeatedly collaborated with pro-abortion advocates, and failed to follow the appropriate administrative procedures to implement its abortion-coverage requirement. The Ninth Circuit rightly recognized the harm that the state has inflicted on Skyline Church in subjecting it to this unprecedented mandate.”

Earlier this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the HHS Office for Civil Rights has issued a violation to the state of California for its abortion coverage mandate. A press release about the violation stated that California “cannot impose universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance plans and issuers in violation of federal conscience laws.” California AG Xavier Becerra responded by stating that California intends to continue to mandate abortion coverage despite the violation.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling in favor of Skyline Wesleyan Church is a step forward for organizations in California that refuse to pay for the elective killing of preborn babies.

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