Washington state law: Churches pay for abortions or break the law

by WorldTribune Staff, March 18, 2019

A church in Kirkland, Washington filed a federal lawsuit against the state over a new law that requires insurance plans to cover abortion if they also cover maternity leave.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the suit earlier this month on behalf of Cedar Park Assembly of God.

ADF photo

“Churches like the Plaintiff Cedar Park are now obligated to provide and pay for a health plan that covers abortions,” ADF said in a March 8 court filing. “Even when the federal government was requiring religiously-motivated private businesses to offer health plans that covered abortion, it exempted churches. Not so the State of Washington.”

The law, SB 6219, passed the Democratic-controlled Washington legislature last year and was signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee. Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington helped draft the bill before it was signed, according to the lawsuit.

The Cedar Park Assembly of God runs a Christian school and childcare program. It has 185 employees. The church said it chose a group health insurance plan as the best way to save money on health care. The insurance plan includes maternity leave. Switching to a self-insured model would mean more than $240,000 in additional costs, according to the lawsuit.

“Washington’s attack on people of faith is intentional. It represents the kind of deliberate religious persecution that our country was founded to prevent,” the lawsuit says. “… The strong statutory language, lack of any church exception, and anticipated evidence that pro-abortion groups assisted in drafting and enacting SB 6219, indicates that Washington and its officials deliberately targeted religious organizations and intentionally violated those organizations’ religious beliefs.”

The Washington State Catholic Conference expressed concern over the bill’s lack of religious exemptions before it passed last year, according to ChristianHeadlines.com report. The bill’s sponsor, Democrat state Sen. Steve Hobbs, declined to change it, saying employers had the option of suing.

“Health care is about the individual, not about them,” Hobbs told KOMO radio.

ADF attorney Kevin Theriot said the U.S. Supreme Court “has consistently held that government hostility toward people of faith is unconstitutional and has no place in our society. The state’s policy crushes dissent and violates the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause by targeting Cedar Park’s entirely legitimate internal policies and religious beliefs.”

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