Blog Post

Planned Parenthood Behind CA Rule Forcing Churches to Pay for Abortion

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Attorneys have released a series of emails proving that Planned Parenthood played a pivotal role behind the drive to pressure the state of California to force religious employers to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans.

According to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) whose attorneys are representing the churches being pressured to provide this coverage, they discovered internal emails that reveal the pressure Planned Parenthood put upon officials at the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) to force churches to include abortion coverage in their health care plans regardless of their moral or conscientious objections.

Until now, the state has recognized that religious groups should not be subject to such requirements, but that didn’t sit well with the abortion extremists at the nation’s largest abortion provider. The emails reveal specific demands from Planned Parenthood asking officials to implement a “fix” which would require religious institutions to include the coverage. In fact, the emails reveal that Planned Parenthood actually threatened to promote its own “legislative solution” if the agency didn’t act.

For example, Planned Parenthood lobbyist Brianna Pittman wrote to a DMHC staffer offering a “deal” that would pacify them while the state tried to find an administration solution.

“While we know this is complicated and may take a while to completely sort out (especially because DMHC has already approved abortion exclusions for some plans), our folks would feel positive about pursing 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.”

Other aspects of the “deal” included an agreement from DMHC to "rescind approval of the Anthem Blue Cross & Kaiser plans (along with any other plans that include an abortion exclusion) so that those two providers cannot offer plans to employers in the future that will exclude abortion."

She closes the email with the typical talking point: “We look forward to engaging with you and DMHC going forward on this issue to ensure that employers cannot deny women coverage of abortion services.”

The DMHC caved to these demands in 2014 and attorneys have been fighting it ever since.

“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 ADF Legal Counsel Jeremiah Galus. “California officials are required to follow the law and legal precedent, not the dictates of groups that have an ax to grind against religious organizations that don’t share their views on abortion. We are asking the 9th Circuit to strike down this obviously unconstitutional mandate.”

“No state agency anywhere has the right to demand that church health insurance plans contain this kind of coverage, which clearly violates these churches’ most sincerely held religious beliefs,” added ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “The state has no business implementing Planned Parenthood’s scheme to force religious groups to act contrary to their own pro-life beliefs under the threat of massive penalties if they don’t comply.”

In the lawsuit, Foothill Church v. Rouillard, ADF attorneys represent Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, and The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch.

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