As a result of rulings recently handed down by two district courts in California, the Department of Managed Health Care has agreed to pay $1.4 million in legal fees for churches who pushed back against a state mandate that abortions must be covered in their health plans. This is a major victory for churches and faith-based organizations for whom abortion violates strongly-held beliefs.
In 2015, Calvary Chapel of Chino Hills in Chino, Foothill Church in Glendora and Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch sued the department and its director over the mandate. Skyline Wesleyan Church near San Diego also filed a separate lawsuit in 2016. Alliance Defending Freedom, the nation’s premier legal defense of faith-based issues, took up the cases arguing the mandate was a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. They also submitted a formal complaint alleging violation of religious conscience to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
California’s Attorney General outlined the first agreement on May 9, in which the state will pay each of the plaintiffs in the first case $500,000 each in attorney fees. In the Skyline settlement, a district judge ordered payment of $900,000 to the plaintiff on May 11. Fees in both cases must be paid by June 30.
During case investigation, ADF attorneys discovered emails indicating the mandate was issued in response from pressure from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The government can’t force a church or any other religious employer to violate their faith and conscience by participating in funding abortion. …For years, California officials, in collaboration with Planned Parenthood, have unconstitutionally targeted faith-based organizations. This is a significant victory for the churches we represent, the conscience rights of their members, and other religious organizations that shouldn’t be ordered by the government to violate some of their deepest faith convictions.”~ADF senior counsel Jeremiah Galus
Let’s celebrate this significant victory with great rejoicing, and may we be reminded of the importance of standing up for our faith-based values. Of thousands of churches in California, only 4 stood up to say, “We’re not bending on this…even if it means going to court!” What if believers everywhere collectively stood up to say, “Our faith matters and we’re not going to sit idly by while evil runs rampant!”
How different might our cities, states and nation be we as Christians truly lived out our faith in bold ways? Let’s try it! If God is on our side, who can be against us?