The California Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops of the state, has filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) citing federal civil rights violations by the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) resulting in Catholic institutions and others being required to purchase health insurance covering all forms of voluntary direct abortion, including late-term and gender selection.
The complaint was filed because of an administrative directive issued on August 22, 2014, by DMHC to the heads of eight different health insurance plans ordering them to amend their current health plans and remove any coverage or exclusions regarding voluntary abortions on the basis that abortion for any reason was “basic health care” and could not be excluded.
“This is a coercive and discriminatory action by the State of California,” said Bishop Robert McElroy, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and chair of the Institutional Concerns Committee of the California Catholic Conference. “This demand by the State was directly targeted at Catholic institutions like Santa Clara University, Loyola Marymount University, along with other California employers and citizens. It is a flagrant violation of their civil rights and deepest moral convictions, and is government coercion of the worst kind.”
“Catholic beliefs about life and human dignity animate and shape our Catholic ministries,” said Bishop McElroy. “It’s why we oppose abortion, but it is also why Catholic schools provide education, Catholic hospitals care for the poor and vulnerable and why Catholic social services provide assistance to people and families in need. It goes to the core of our moral beliefs.”
The HHS Office of Civil Rights has jurisdiction in this matter because of a federal law known as the “Weldon Amendment” that was enacted to protect the conscience rights of individuals and institutions.
In this case, the Office of Civil Rights can cut-off California’s access to federal funds unless or until it stops its discriminatory practices.