The following comes from an April 7 posting on the website of Assemblywoman Shannon Grove:
SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Shannon Grove has introduced legislation (AB 1254) to stop state health officials from forcing churches and other California employers to buy insurance coverage for elective abortion in violation of their religious beliefs and in violation of federal law. Last summer, the California Department of Managed Health Care suddenly changed its policy and threatened to punish any insurance company who sold policies without elective abortion coverage. It did this despite the fact that nothing in California law or in the state constitution requires private health plans to cover abortion, and despite the federal Weldon Amendments which forbids this type of discrimination.
“No one, especially religious organizations with moral objections, should be forced to pay for abortions in their healthcare plans,” said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove. “Not only is this an unconscionable assault on our most fundamental freedoms, it flagrantly violates federal law.”
According to the Hyde-Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment, states like California receiving certain federal tax payer dollars are prohibited from discriminating against health insurance companies offering plans that don’t provide abortion coverage. The California Department of Managed Health Care suddenly reinterpreted a 1975 California law mandating insurance plans cover “basic health care services.” On their own, state bureaucrats announced last August that all abortions are now to be considered “basic health services.”
“These unelected state health officials knew about this federal requirement, but decided to break the law instead,” said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove. “Consequently, California could lose tens of billions in federal healthcare dollars for this violation, hurting people throughout the state who depend that money.”
Ironically, California exempts certain religious employers, allowing them to not include contraceptive coverage in their health-care plans, but this exemption does not exist for abortions.
Seven California churches, with the help of the Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights over this illegal discrimination in violation of federal law. Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom also filed a complaint on behalf of seven Loyola Marymount University employees who were forced into a plan covering elective abortion by the Department of Managed Health Care’s order.
Assemblywoman Grove’s bill (AB 1254) would simply require the department to follow federal law and prohibit discrimination against healthcare companies selling health insurance policies without abortion coverage. This bill in no way prohibits health insurance companies from providing abortion coverage; it just removes the abortion coverage requirement.