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ADF to court: Stop California from forcing churches to cover abortion

ADF attorney representing San Diego–area congregation available to media following hearing

Friday, Jun 17, 2016

Attorney sound bite:  Jeremiah Galus

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Jeremiah Galus
WHAT: Available to media following hearing on motion to dismiss in Skyline Wesleyan Church v. California Department of Managed Health Care
WHEN: Monday, June 20, immediately following hearing, which begins at 10:30 a.m. PDT
WHERE: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, 333 W. Broadway, Suite 1510, Courtroom 15A, San Diego

SAN DIEGO – Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Jeremiah Galus will be available for media interviews Monday immediately following a hearing over whether to allow a lawsuit to proceed against a California agency for forcing churches to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans. ADF attorneys represent a San Diego–area church in the suit, which a state court transferred to federal court shortly after the suit was filed. ADF is defending three other California churches against the mandate in a different federal court.

ADF filed the San Diego church’s suit, Skyline Wesleyan Church v. California Department of Managed Health Care, on behalf of Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa. It cites violations of the church’s rights and freedoms under the state’s Administrative Procedures Act and both the federal and state constitutions.

“Californians shouldn’t be forced to choose between following their deepest convictions and submitting to unlawful and unjust government mandates,” said Galus. “Because Obamacare requires employers to provide health insurance coverage, the California mandate has left churches with no way to opt out of paying for abortions. The state unconstitutionally forced abortion coverage into churches’ health insurance plans without their knowledge or approval.”

“Despite compelling churches—for the first time in our country’s history—to pay for an act that their religion teaches is murder, the Department urges this Court to dismiss the Complaint. The Court should deny its request…,” ADF argued in its opposition, filed earlier this month, to the state’s motion to dismiss. “First…, the Mandate inserted abortion coverage into the Church’s health plan without its knowledge and in violation of its religious beliefs. Skyline Church has been forced to choose between violating its beliefs and suffering disastrous financial consequences ever since. Second, Skyline Church alleges ample facts…that the Mandate subjects the Church’s religious beliefs to hostile and disfavored treatment in violation of…the U.S. Constitution and…the California Constitution.”

“The Complaint also alleges facts sufficient to show that the Mandate is a regulation within the meaning of California’s Administrative Procedures Act and thus subject to its notice and comment requirements, which the Department did not follow,” the opposition brief adds.

In 2014, ADF and Life Legal Defense Foundation filed formal complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services against DMHC regarding California’s mandate and its violation of federal conscience law. Those came on the heels of a complaint filed directly with DMHC, which responded by affirming its decision to force all plans to cover all abortions without any explanation as to how that decision squared with state and federal law.

Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund attorney Charles LiMandri, one of more than 3,000 private attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel in the case on behalf of the church.
  • Pronunciation guide: Galus (GAL’-us)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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