July 21, 2021

Washington Church Files Brief with 9th Circuit Over Abortion Coverage Mandate

Cedar Park Assembly of God in Washington state is taking another step in its ongoing fight against a law requiring religious institutions to include abortion coverage in all employee healthcare plans with maternity benefits.

On July 9, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a brief before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking them to overturn a lower courts ruling, which threw out the church's lawsuit. ADF attorneys argued that Washington state is violating the church's constitutional rights to practice their religious beliefs about the sanctity of human life. The attorneys also argued the law specifically targets churches, since it provides exceptions for healthcare providers but not religious organizations.

“We’re standing for the rights of people of faith to not be forced into being complicit with something inconsistent with our faith,” said senior pastor Rev. Jay Smith, according to SeattlePi. “Abortion is the antithesis of who we are as an organization, what our beliefs are, and how we live our faith.”

According to the Washington Times, attorneys for the state argued that the church was not injured or burdened by the law because they can buy insurance from providers who are exempt from the abortion coverage requirement. The court filing rebuked the state's argument, stating, “No evidence supports the court’s assumption that Cedar Park could obtain an abortion-excluding group health plan from a different insurance provider. That such a plan might be available to a few ministries elsewhere has no impact on Cedar Park’s injury or standing to challenge [the law].”