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HHS: CA agency illegally forced citizens, churches to cover elective abortions

Friday, Jan 24, 2020
The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Denise Harle regarding Friday’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights of its determination that the state of California violated federal law by forcing all health insurance plans—including those purchased by churches—to pay for elective abortions:

“No one should force a church or any other employer to participate in funding abortion. For years, California’s Department of Managed Health Care has demonstrated hostility to churches by forcing them to pay for elective abortions. The agency has unconstitutionally targeted religious organizations, repeatedly collaborated with pro-abortion advocates, and failed to follow the appropriate administrative procedures to institute its unprecedented mandate. We commend the Trump administration and HHS’s Office for Civil Rights for investigating and taking corrective action against the state of California for its flawed policies, persistent violation of federal law, and its willful disregard for the civil rights and conscience rights of its citizens.”

The federal Weldon Amendment prohibits states which receive federal funding from compelling healthcare plans to fund abortion. ADF has filed complaints with OCR against California’s DMHC regarding its mandate and its violation of federal conscience law. When the previous administration failed to address the concerns raised in those complaints, ADF filed lawsuits on behalf of California churches forced to fund elective abortions. On Nov. 4, 2019, ADF attorneys argued Skyline Wesleyan Church v. California Department of Managed Health Care before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. In the lawsuit Foothill Church v. Rouillard, ADF attorneys representing three additional California churches have also appealed their case to the 9th Circuit.
  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR’-lee)
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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ABOUT Denise Harle

Denise Harle serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is the director of the Center for Life. Prior to joining ADF, Harle served as deputy solicitor general in the Office of the Florida Attorney General, where she drafted appellate briefs and presented oral arguments on behalf of the state in a wide variety of constitutional cases, including defending the constitutionality of pro-life laws. In 2017, she participated in the prestigious Supreme Court Fellow program, sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General. She clerked for Justice Ricky L. Polston on the Florida Supreme Court and worked for several years as an appellate litigator at a large firm in California. Harle earned bachelor’s degrees, summa cum laude, in psychology and interdisciplinary social science from Florida State University, a master’s degree in political science from Stanford University, and a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law. At Duke, she served as the executive editor of Law & Contemporary Problems. A member of the state bars of California, Florida, and Georgia, she is admitted to multiple federal district and appellate courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.