The governor of Washington signed the Reproductive Parity Act into law in 2018. This measure requires employers with insurance plans that cover maternity leave — including churches — to also cover a procedure that kills unborn babies. The state does not exempt churches and other religious organizations from paying for elective abortions. If they refuse to comply, they face fines and imprisonment.
Cedar Park Church filed a lawsuit against the state on First Amendment grounds. To pay for abortions would violate the church’s religious convictions. After the lower court dismissed the suit, the church appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Alliance Defending Freedom represents the church. An excerpt:
“Washington state is violating churches’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to cover abortions in their health plans, contrary to their religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that government hostility toward people of faith is unconstitutional. The government cannot target Cedar Park, or any other church or religious nonprofit, for simply abiding by their legitimate internal policies and deeply held convictions.”
The Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of California church’s last year. The state requires employers that offer health insurance to employees to include elective abortion coverage in the plans. The lower court moved to dismiss the suit, claiming that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the church’s claim. The Ninth Circuit disagreed and sent the case back to the lower court.
“We hold that Skyline has suffered an injury in fact,” the 9th Circuit wrote in its opinion. “Before the Letters were sent, Skyline had insurance that excluded abortion coverage in a way that was consistent with its religious beliefs. After the Letters were sent, Skyline did not have that coverage, and it has presented evidence that its new coverage violated its religious beliefs. There is nothing hypothetical about the situation.”
Cedar Park Church offers support to women with unexpected pregnancies and unwed mothers. They support foster care and adoption. They also teach K-12 students biblical principles. Find out more in the video below.