September 12, 2023

Oregon Right to Life Sues over Abortion Coverage Mandate

On September 5, Oregon Right to Life (ORTL) filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge Oregon's abortion coverage mandate for employee health plans.

Oregon's 2017 Reproductive Health Equity Act includes exceptions for religious organizations, but ORTL does not qualify as a religious organization under the law's definition. The definition only applies to organizations that primarily serve people with the same religious beliefs.

“As a pro-life organization, no one questions that we hold deep moral objections to abortion,” said ORTL executive director Lois Anderson in a statement. “We are only asking for what every American expects, to be free to live according to our conscience and operate our organization according to our sincerely held belief that unborn human beings deserve protection from the violence of abortion.”

ORTL's press release continues, "Because Oregon’s Mandate allows exceptions, Oregon must prove a compelling reason for not allowing ORTL an exception. But the courts have already rejected the reasons Oregon might assert as not compelling. For example, because ORTL’s employees agree with ORTL’s beliefs, Oregon has no compelling reason to require coverage since the employees don’t want it. So ORTL should get an exception."

ORTL compares this case to a similar abortion coverage mandate levied by California. In the Supreme Court's 2021 decision, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the court found that California violated the First Amendment religious liberty protections of churches.