California Churches Prevail after State’s Attempt to Mandate Abortion Coverage
Government collusion with Planned Parenthood now has a price tag: $1.4 million.
Last week, an eight-year legal battle finally ended after the state of California agreed to pay a hefty sum in attorneys’ fees to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The state was ordered to foot ADF’s legal fees for illegally forcing ADF’s clients — Skyline Wesleyan Church, Foothill Church, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and The Shepherd of the Hills Church — to finance abortion in its employee health insurance plans.
Foothill, Calvary Chapel and The Shepherd of the Hills were involved in the first federal lawsuit ADF filed against the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) in 2015. Skyline’s lawsuit was the second ADF filed against the agency in 2016.
Both lawsuits centered around a California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) policy put in place “thanks” to the state agency’s behind-the-scenes collusion with Planned Parenthood.
The policy was, in essence, was “a wholescale reinterpretation of a 40-year-old state law — the Knox-Keene Act — to include elective abortions as a mandatory element of all health care insurance policies” — forced abortion coverage with the full force of the nation’s largest state’s government behind it. The reinterpretation “flew in the face of decades of interpretation of the Knox-Keene Act — and intentionally bypassed the democratic process in favor of what Planned Parenthood called ‘an administrative solution in lieu of legislation’ — the DMHC eventually took the bait.”
What was the “administrative solution” in search of a problem?
Planned Parenthood’s explicit “demands ask[ing] agency officials to implement a ‘fix’ requiring the health plans of religious organizations to include coverage for abortion, regardless of moral or conscientious objections and despite state recognition up to that point that religious groups shouldn’t be subject to such requirements. The abortion giant threatened to promote its own legislative ‘solution’ if the administrative agency didn’t act, so DMHC issued its mandate in 2014.”
The agency ate up the rotten chum Planned Parenthood put in the waters — flying in the face not only of the state constitution, but the U.S. Constitution and its First Amendment.
Perhaps this was then-Governor Jerry Brown’s version of “mansplaining.” A male governor, and his administration, telling female church employees what these women “need:” abortion coverage they don’t want.
One lesson in mansplaining that Brown and current California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) should be more cognizant of is: Planned Parenthood doesn’t speak for all women.
Planned Parenthood certainly doesn’t speak for countless Christian women who work as church staff and clergy, like Skyline pastor Lisa Amann.
She explained the situation Skyline faced eloquently: “We’re between a rock and a hard place because we are either being forced to support abortion, or we’re being fined for not participating in health care. When it was presented to make this stand, it was an automatic ‘yes,’ just because the Bible is so clear on its stance on abortion. The Bible is so clear about how much God, the Creator, loves His creation. It says in the Bible that, we are God’s masterpiece. The Greek word … is ‘poiema’ which means poem. We’re His poems. And God says that His masterpiece[s] are valuable. That’s why life matters. It’s because the Creator gave that value to His creation. We’re essentially defending people who don’t have voices. As Christians, we’re called to be the voices for those who are defenseless.”
But thankfully, God provided Skyline and the other three churches a soft landing by not having to submit to this obviously illegal policy.
It’s good to see there are still storybook endings for California’s life-affirming churches!
Alice Chao serves as a Communications Manager at Family Research Council.