On Tuesday, the HHS Office of Civil Rights upheld a California abortion mandate that requires churches in California to pay for elective abortions.
The Obama administration had opened an investigation after churches filed a lawsuit against the regulation last October, seeking protection under the Weldon Amendment that guarantees conscience rights.
The administration claims that it found no violation of the Weldon Amendment and therefore is terminating its investigation without further action.
In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care reclassified abortion as “basic health care” under the Affordable Care Act and required all insurance plans in the state—including those of churches—to cover surgical abortions.
“Nearly two years after California imposed its draconian mandate that requires all insurance companies to pay for abortion the Obama Administration has reached a new low — reinterpreting the Weldon amendment to allow the mandate to continue,” said Rep. Chris Smith, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.
“This means that Californians, including churches, will continue to be forced to pay for elective abortions in their insurance plans,” he said.
Smith further accused the Obama Administration of “blatant disregard for the rule of law.”
“This decision illustrates the far reaches of Obama’s radical pro-abortion ideology – forcing churches and communities of faith that have pro-life convictions to participate in and pay for a practice that dismembers and chemically poisons unborn children,” he said.
Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, similarly blasted the Obama Administration for “making a mockery of the law.”
“Churches should never be forced to cover elective abortion in their insurance plans, and for ten years the Weldon Amendment has protected the right to have plans that do not include coverage for abortion-on-demand,” Mattox said in a statement on the group’s website.
Alliance Defending Freedom said it will ask a federal court to allow the lawsuit against California to proceed.
The lawsuit is on behalf of Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, and The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, and charges that California’s mandate directly violates federal conscience law.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome