May 26, 2023

Federal Courts Rule California Can't Force Churches to Cover Abortion

Two federal courts in California ruled this month that the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) cannot force churches to cover abortions in their employee health insurance plans. The rulings found the mandate to violate the churches' first amendment rights, and the state will have to pay $1.4 million towards the churches' attorneys fees.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed lawsuits on behalf of several churches in 2015 and 2016 after the DMHC announced a state mandate that abortion be covered in health insurance plans. Emails discovered during the lawsuit revealed that Planned Parenthood influenced the California agency's policies under a threat that they would push their own legislative solution.

“The government can’t force a church or any other religious employer to violate their faith and conscience by participating in funding abortion,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus. “For years, California officials, in collaboration with Planned Parenthood, have unconstitutionally targeted faith-based organizations. This is a significant victory for the churches we represent, the conscience rights of their members, and other religious organizations that shouldn’t be ordered by the government to violate some of their deepest faith convictions.”

“In both cases, the courts ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects the churches’ freedom to operate according to their religious beliefs, which include their belief in the sanctity of unborn lives,” ADF also noted.