California says two Catholic universities must pay for abortion
- Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University notified employees last fall that they would discontinue paying for abortion services provided through their health care plans.
- On Friday, the California Department of Managed Health Care declared that allowing insurance companies to honor the universities’ request would violate the state’s constitution and a 1975 state law.
The California Department of Managed Health Care has denied requests by two Catholic religious universities—Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and Santa Clara University (SCU)—to opt out of abortion services provided to their employees through their designated health care plans.
Last Friday, the Department notified seven insurance companies that any requests for exemption from “medically necessary” abortions are prohibited by the California state Constitution and a 1975 state law.
“All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.” Tweet This
This comes as a surprise to both universities, who were told by their insurance companies—Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente—that their requests had been cleared by the state.
Last fall, both universities notified their employees that they planned to discontinue paying for the services. However, employees could pay for supplemental coverage through a third party provider if they desired.
Soon after, abortion-rights groups and employees at the universities began lobbying the women’s caucus of the California Legislature. The caucus requested that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) reverse the health care department’s decision.
“Abortion is a basic health care service,” wrote department director Michelle Rouillard. “All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”
Two pro-life groups, the Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), sent a letter to Rouillard on Friday, arguing that California lacks the authority under federal law to require employers to cover elective abortions.
“When Congress enacted the Weldon Amendment, it sought to ensure that the government could never strong-arm pro-life employers into paying for abortion coverage,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matthew Bowman told Christian News. “Therefore, California’s decision is illegal. No state can ignore federal law in a pursuit to conform everyone to the state’s own ideology on abortion.”
ADF and LLDF are threatening to file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services.
ADF and LLDF did not respond in request for comment in time for publication.