Pro-life advocates denounce judge's ruling forcing churches to pay for abortion in insurance plans

Pro-life advocates have denounced a federal judge's ruling on Aug. 31 which said churches and other faith-based employers in California must include abortion in their employees' insurance coverage no matter what their religious beliefs are.

(REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque)Anti-abortion demonstrators take part in the "March for Life" in Washington January 23, 2012.

In August 2014, the director of the California Department of Managed Health Care, Michelle Rouillard, had written a letter that said all insurance companies in the state must cover abortions in their plans. Several local churches filed a lawsuit opposing this directive, but U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller dismissed the suit, Christian News Network detailed.

"Plaintiffs have not alleged sufficient facts to make it plausible that the director has selectively applied the law to target the plaintiffs' religious beliefs," said Judge Mueller in her ruling.

The churches that mounted the legal challenge include Foothill Church, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and The Shepherd of the Hills Church. Judge Mueller said the three evangelical churches failed to state an adequate claim but gave them 21 days to submit an amended complaint, the Baptist Press reported.

Alliance Defending Freedom, which spoke for the churches in the case, said the ruling ignored people's right to act in line with their religious beliefs. Pro-life Christian leaders also denounced the judge's decision which they said forced people to pay for abortion even if it was against their consciences.

"The state has no authority to dictate to the consciences of churches or religious organizations about abortion," Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore told the Baptist Press. "Forcing citizens to subsidize the destruction of human life and the exploitation of families and communities is a moral and political tragedy."

He added: "I pray that this mandate would be struck down quickly and that yet another attempt to trample religious conscience would be thwarted."

In a written statement, ADF legal counsel Jeremiah Galus echoed Moore's comments and said California should not "dictate" the belief of pastors and churches. He also expressed concern over the state's ability to force churches to pay for something that they oppose and violates their religious beliefs, which were supposed to be protected by the American Constitution.