Obama mandate, HHS: California is permitted to force insurers to cover abortions
June 23, 2016
The US Department of Health and Human Services has determined that California’s decision to force insurers to cover abortions does not violate federal legislation designed to protect conscience rights.
The Weldon amendment, which protects the rights of health-care officials to avoid involvement in abortion, applies “only to health care entities and not to individuals who are patients of, or institutions or individuals that are insured by, such entities,” stated the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Catholic colleges in California had invoked the Weldon Amendment to justify excluding abortion coverage from their employees’ health-care plans. That policy was challenged by faculty members at two Catholic universities: Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara University. The universitie agreed to add abortion coverage, but the Catholic bishops of California joined several groups in challenging the California law. Under the new HHS ruling, all religious institutions would appear to be legally required to offer abortion coverage.
“It is shocking that HHS has allowed the State of California to force all employers – even churches – to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health insurance plans,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
“This administrative ruling fails to respect not only the rights to life and religious freedom, but also the will of Congress and the rule of law,” they added. “As a remedy to the Administration’s unwillingness to fulfill its responsibilities, we urge Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act and stop further discrimination against people of faith and against all who respect unborn human life.”
• In ‘shocking’ move, California churches forced to cover abortions (Catholic World Report)
• Obama Administration Forces California Churches to Pay for Abortions (LifeNews.com)
• Obama’s health advisors reject ‘right of conscience’ challenge to California’s required abortion
coverage (Los Angeles Times)
• HHS Rules That California Did Not Violate Weldon Amendment (Religion Clause)
• USCCB Committee Chairmen Say Federal Agency Fails to Protect Churches from California Elective Abortion Mandate (USCCB)