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HHS: California is permitted to force insurers to cover abortions

June 23, 2016

The US Department of Health and Human Services has determined that California’s decision to force insurers to cover abortions does not violate federal legislation designed to protect conscience rights.

The Weldon amendment, which protects the rights of health-care officials to avoid involvement in abortion, applies “only to health care entities and not to individuals who are patients of, or institutions or individuals that are insured by, such entities,” stated the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Catholic colleges in California had invoked the Weldon Amendment to justify excluding abortion coverage from their employees' health-care plans. That policy was challenged by faculty members at two Catholic universities: Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara University. The universitie agreed to add abortion coverage, but the Catholic bishops of California joined several groups in challenging the California law. Under the new HHS ruling, all religious institutions would appear to be legally required to offer abortion coverage.

“It is shocking that HHS has allowed the State of California to force all employers – even churches – to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health insurance plans,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. 

“This administrative ruling fails to respect not only the rights to life and religious freedom, but also the will of Congress and the rule of law," they added. “As a remedy to the Administration's unwillingness to fulfill its responsibilities, we urge Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act and stop further discrimination against people of faith and against all who respect unborn human life.”


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  • Posted by: Ken - Jun. 23, 2016 8:12 PM ET USA

    What is shocking, Cardinal Dolan is that the USCCB supported passage of obamacare without realizing this would be the end result. The USCCB allied itself with the most pro-abort president in history and made itself willfully blind to this obvious outcome.

  • Posted by: Jim Hanink - Jun. 23, 2016 7:14 PM ET USA

    I am one of the small Loyola Marymount faculty and staff group that joined in bringing this complaint before the Office of Civil Rights of the DHHS. To the best of my knowledge, Loyola Marymount leadership sat on their collective hands in this effort. Few expected otherwise. With respect to its Catholic identity, it is a failed institution. Let's pray that, with God's grace, its Jesuit bones can rise again.