California Supreme Court: Catholics Must Insure Abortions on Demand Because They Are ‘Medically Necessary’

Phil Thiltrickett, an opponent of an abortion, holds a rosary as he prays outside a Planne
AP Photo/Eric Gay

The California Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit brought by Catholic missionaries that sought to overturn a state mandate that forces them to pay insurance premiums that subsidize abortions.

The Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, an organization of Catholic women, were told in August by a state appeals court that a woman’s choice to have an abortion must be considered “medically necessary,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

In 2014, under Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown, California adopted regulations that state, under Obamacare, all voluntary abortions are “basic health care” and “medically necessary” and must be provided by all health insurance plans with no allowance for religious or moral objections.

The missionaries argued that only abortions to save the life of the mother are “medically necessary” and maintained the state unlawfully adopted the new regulations without an opportunity for public comment.

In April, it was discovered that, while the general public was not given an opportunity to comment, Planned Parenthood provided its input.

Internal emails between Planned Parenthood and the California Health and Human Services agency in February 2014 revealed the abortion chain pressured the state agency to force religious groups and churches to cover elective abortions.

Catholic News Agency reported that three churches filed a notice of appeal in federal court that used the emails revealing the discussions between Planned Parenthood and the state health agency as evidence.

In the emails, lobbyists for Planned Parenthood insisted that religious groups, churches, and, specifically, Catholic colleges, be forced to offer coverage for elective abortions.

Anxious to ensure that no faith groups or Catholic colleges could claim an exemption to the regulation, Planned Parenthood lobbyists demanded a regulatory fix but would also have a draft of a piece of legislation at the ready if the fix could not be made.

Beth Parker, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, wrote to Shelley Rouillard at the state’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC):

While we would prefer to see this resolved without legislation, we are concerned with DMHC’s ability to find a solution based on several months of conversation and the inconsistencies in DMHC policy on abortion coverage we uncovered in health plan approval documents … We really want to find a comprehensive resolution to this issue, whether legislative or administrative.

Planned Parenthood lobbyist Brianna Pittman then proposed the deal:

[O]ur folks would feel positive about pursing [sic] an administrative solution, in lieu of legislation this year, if the Administration would agree to:

– Going forward, DMHC will not approve any further plans that exclude coverage for abortion or other reproductive health care service. This includes a clarification that there is no such thing as an elective or voluntary abortion exclusion. Simply saying that plans need to cover “medically necessary” abortions has been the source of the issue and does not solve the problem.

“DMHC will rescind their approval” of insurance plans that exclude elective abortion coverage, Pittman continued with Planned Parenthood’s demands.

Subsequently, in August 2014, DMHC declared that, under Obamacare, abortion was now “basic health care.” As a result of this redefinition, all insurance plans in the state — even those of churches and other religious organizations — were now required to provide coverage for elective abortions.

In 2016, the Obama HHS Office of Civil Rights upheld the California mandate that required churches in California to pay for elective abortions. Three churches — Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, and The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch — had filed a lawsuit against the rule, arguing their conscience rights were protected under the Weldon Amendment.

The administration claimed it found no violation of the Weldon Amendment and was, therefore, terminating its investigation without further action.

“The government shouldn’t be forcing churches to pay for abortion, and it is shameful and inappropriate that the government did so in this case at the bidding of Planned Parenthood,” said Jeremiah Galus, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented the churches. “California officials are required to follow the law and legal precedent, not the dictates of groups that have an axe to grind against religious organizations that don’t share their views on abortion.”


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