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California churches sue state agency for forcing them to cover abortion

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Three California churches are suing a state agency that requires churches across the state to cover elective abortions in heath insurance plans. The pro-life and religious liberty law nonprofit, Alliance Defending Freedom, is suing California’s Department of Managed Health Care on behalf of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, Foothill Church in Glendora, and The Shepard of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch.

In 2014, in response to an ADF complaint, the agency affirmed its intentions to mandate that all plans cover elective abortions, despite the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections and federal conscience laws.

“The government has no right to demand that church health insurance plans contain coverage for abortion – something that violates these churches’ most sincerely held religious beliefs,” ADF senior legal counsel, Erik Stanley, declared. “California is violating the Constitution by strong-arming churches into having this coverage in their plans.”

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In addition, ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Jeremiah Galus called it “absurd” that “the same government that rightfully does not require California churches to pay for contraceptive coverage requires them to pay for elective abortion coverage.”

In an interview with Live Action, Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor Jack Hibbs said the mandate is a flagrant disregard for religious liberty and the Constitution.

“I have a lot of invested interest in defending the unborn,” Hibbs said. “I see the Constitution under attack, and I see my religious freedom under attack.”

Hibbs contended that he would even ” go to jail,” if necessary, in order to defend the preborn.

“We will take this to the point of being jailed, if necessary, being arrested, if necessary –  whatever it takes. I cannot violate my biblical worldview,” Hibbs said. “Once I have to do that, I no longer live in the United States our founding fathers gave me.”

In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius that the government cannot compel closely-held corporations from covering abortion-inducing drugs. Churches are generally recognized as having even stronger claims to religious exemption from such mandates than religious for-profit businesses.

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