September 10, 2020

Church in Washington State Asks 9th Circuit to Overturn Ruling Forcing it to Cover Elective Abortion

Cedar Park Assembly of God, a church in the state of Washington, filed its opening brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday. A lower court already dismissed the church's lawsuit against the state for forcing the church's health insurance plan to cover elective abortion, but the church hopes that the 9th circuit will overrule that decision.

The church's opening brief explains that  SB 6219 (the law forcing insurance providers to cover abortions), “contains no religious exception despite many religious organizations’ belief in the sanctity of human life and strong opposition to abortion. When churches protested, the bill’s sponsor suggested they sue if they did not wish to comply. This extreme abortion-coverage mandate had its desired effect: insurance providers began inserting abortion coverage into ministries’ health plans in direct violation of their religious teachings…. State officials thus deliberately targeted houses of worship for mandatory abortion coverage and, in so doing, intentionally violated their religious beliefs about the sanctity of human life.”

SB 6219 was signed into law back in March of 2018 and threatens criminal penalties if an organization refuses to provide abortion coverage as part of its maternity care.

“No church should be forced to cover abortions, and certainly not a church that dedicates its ministry to protecting and celebrating life like Cedar Park does,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “Cedar Park believes and teaches that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection until natural death, so providing insurance coverage for abortions is clearly not something the church can or should be forced to do. And Cedar Park doesn’t simply believe in the importance of human life, it puts those beliefs into practice by partnering with a local pregnancy care center, hosting an annual camp for foster care children, and ministering to hundreds of couples struggling with infertility. The state has no legitimate legal basis to force this church—or any other—into contradicting its foundational belief that human life is sacred.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are assisting Cedar Park Assembly of God in its argument to the 9th circuit.

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