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Obama Administration Backs California Mandate Requiring Churches to Cover Elective Abortions in Employee Health Plans
A worshiper prays April 2, 2005 at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois. Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago spoke about Pope John Paul II after the Vatican announced that the Pope, who lead the Catholic church for 26 years, died at the age of 84. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Obama Administration Backs California Mandate Requiring Churches to Cover Elective Abortions in Employee Health Plans

"The Obama Administration has reached a new low."

The Obama administration said Tuesday that the state of California did not violate a religious freedom law when it ordered health insurance companies to cover elective abortions, according to the Associated Press.

Churches and religious organizations — many of whom object to abortion — are subject to the mandate, which requires that their employee health plans cover elective abortion procedures.

Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

According to the Los Angeles Times, the civil rights office at the Department of Health and Human Services rejected a “right of conscience” complaint from pro-life groups that objected to the order.

Jocelyn Samuels, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, wrote in her findings, “At the time [California] sent the letter, all of the insurers offered plans that covered abortion, demonstrating that they have no religious or moral objection to that procedure.”

“There is no healthcare entity protected under the [right of conscience] statute that has asserted religious or moral objections to abortion and therefore there is no covered entity that has been subject to discrimination within the meaning of the Weldon Amendment,” Samuels added.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said in a statement, “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.”

“This means that Californians, including churches, will continue to be forced to pay for elective abortions in their insurance plans,” Smith said.

Smith added that the Obama administration “has again shown 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. Congress must not let this discrimination stand. We must take this issue out of the hands of the Obama Administration by moving enforcement of current conscience protections to the courts. Congress needs to enact legislation so churches and other victims have a “private right of action” so they can have their day in court.

Casey Mattox, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the groups that fought the mandate, said, “The Obama administration is once again making a mockery of the law, and this time in the most unimaginable way.”

Mattox's statement continued:

Churches should never be forced to cover elective abortion in their insurance plans, and for 10 years the Weldon Amendment has protected the right to have plans that do not include coverage for abortion on demand. But the state of California has ordered every insurer, even those insuring churches, to cover elective abortions in blatant violation of the law. The administration’s refusal to enforce this law continues its pattern of enforcing laws it wants to enforce, refusing to enforce others, and inventing new interpretations of others out of whole cloth. We will continue to defend churches from this clear violation of the First Amendment and federal law and call on Congress to hold the Department of Health and Human Services accountable.

Follow Kate Scanlon (@kgscanlon) on Twitter and Facebook.

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