By Steven Ertelt
Churches in California are officially subject to an onerous state regulation that requires them to pay for abortions, thanks to a ruling by the Obama administration.
The troubling situation began in 2014 when the California Department of Managed Health Care reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical abortions immediately.Even churches are not exempt from funding abortions.
The churches filed a lawsuit against the regulation last October, and it has been moving through the courts.
They also asked the Obama administration to uphold the Weldon Amendment — federal law that protects conscience rights. But, today, the HHS Office of Civil Rights released the results of its investigation into the California abortion mandate, stating it found no violation and is closing its investigation of the complaints without further action.
OCR’s decision is based on a flawed reading of the Weldon amendment. They argue that the Weldon amendment only protects health insurance plans, and not the purchasers of such plans, and state that the insurance companies have not complained. To say that a previously existing plan that excluded abortion must be discontinued is discriminatory against the life-affirming abortion-free plan. Whether the insurance company objects or not, the mandate is discriminatory.
Furthermore, OCR states that the insurance companies do not hold a religious or moral objection to covering abortion. The Weldon amendment is not limited to religious or moral objections. It is not even based on an objection being raised. It simply states no funds may be made available to a government that subjects a health care entity (health plan in this case) to discrimination on the basis that the entity “does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortion.”
Pro-life leaders in Congress are furious with the Obama administration.