California Court of Appeals Rejects Lawsuit by the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit

In its determination to make elective abortions a non-negotiable component of insurance coverage, the California Court of Appeals has recently rejected a lawsuit by the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, a Catholic convent in the L.A area, in which the sisters challenged a mandate forcing insurance companies to deny special coverage plans that exclude abortion to religious institutions. 

Prior to the 2014 mandate originating from a letter sent by California’s Department of Managed Health Care, insurance providers such as Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross had been tailoring their insurance plans to certains requests from religious institutions, such as Catholic universities and churches. These particular insurance plans did not include coverage for elective abortions—those not deemed medically necessary. Both Kaiser and Anthem obtained permission from the Department of Managed Health Care to provide these plans but were forced to cease after the Department sent its letter prohibiting the absence of abortion coverage. Because of that letter, every insurance plan sold in the state must include elective abortion coverage as an “essential” service.

According to an article published in the Los Angeles Times shortly after the publication of the court’s decision, the main question at hand in the lawsuit was whether or not administrative law had been violated when the Department of Managed Health Care enforced nonnegotiable abortion coverage in its 2014 letter to health insurers. The judges’ decision to reject the lawsuit stems from the observation that California law does not limit abortive procedures to cases in which the woman’s life is in danger. The court’s decision, furthermore, dilutes the terminological difference between medically necessary abortions and elective abortions, as the court claims that California law regarding abortion does not depend on the threat to the woman’s life but on fetal viability.  In other words, California law bizarrely regards elective abortions as medically necessary in all cases, according to the judges.

Unmentioned in the article by the Times, however, is Planned Parenthood’s influence on the Department of Managed Health Care’s decision to issue the letter prohibiting health insurers from excluding abortion services from their plans. These emails showcase Planned Parenthood’s request to “fix” the “issue” of Catholic universities and institutions obtaining abortion exemptions in their insurance plans. Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit law firm representing First Amendment clients, has published the emails on their website, adflegal.org. They provide yet more evidence of Planned Parenthood’s significant role and influence not only in efforts to expand legalized abortion, but also in efforts to limit religious freedom.

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