This summer California decided that a state law requiring health plans to cover “basic health services” had been misinterpreted for decades. As TruthRevolt reported, the state quietly redefined “basic health services” in August to include elective abortions, thus requiring all health care plans, including those paid for by churches, to cover elective surgical abortions. Despite its attempt to slip the new definition by the public, reality of the state’s regulatory change is starting to impact Californians and two nationally-known legal groups are pushing back.
The new regulation, about which churches throughout the state have been gradually and quietly notified, provides no exceptions. The Federalist’s Casey Mattox reports:
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. […] California had not even applied this test to its own state employee health plans (which covered only “medically necessary” abortions). But this novel reading was nevertheless quietly imposed on every plan in the state by fiat.
While California (like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS) exempts churches from its contraceptive mandate, there is no exception to this bureaucratic abortion mandate. 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.
Two high-profile religious liberty legal groups, Alliance Defending Freedom and Life Legal Defense Foundation, have filed complaints with the Health and Human Services Civil Rights Office on behalf of seven California churches and individual employees being forced to fund procedures that violate their religious beliefs.
As Mattox points out, California has now essentially called the Obama administration’s bluff:
What will be the administration and the Left’s response to this unprecedented attack on religious liberty? If they couldn’t stand with Hobby Lobby because it was a for-profit business, not a church, and because they thought its conscience concern was misplaced on the abortifacient nature of Plan B, will they now demand religious liberty for churches forced to cover elective abortion? If not now for religious liberty, when?
The Alliance Defending Freedom has been busy in the last few weeks, having also gotten involved in the religious freedom controversy in Houston, where the city ordered five pastors involved in a non-discrimination ordinance petition to hand over all sermons addressing homosexuality, sexual identity, the mayor, or anything related to the new ordinance.