The attorneys for a church in Seattle have filed a federal lawsuit against Washington state officials for forcing churches to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyers representing Cedar Park Assembly of God, challenged the constitutionality and legality of a new state mandate that requires the Seattle-area church to fund abortion if it provides its staff members access to group health insurance. “No church should be coerced to pay for abortions, least of all a church that dedicates its ministry to protecting and celebrating life,” ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves said in a press release.
“Cedar Park believes and teaches that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection at every point until natural death. Further still, Cedar Park demonstrates its pro-life ethic in tangible ways: partnership with a local pregnancy care centre, hosting an annual camp for children in foster care, operating a school that serves over 1,000 students, and ministering to hundreds of couples struggling with infertility,” the press release continued. “The state of Washington has no business strong-arming this church, or any other, into contradicting the deeply held beliefs that motivate its ministry.”
The church’s lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the legislation. The legislation requires Cedar Park to provide coverage for abortion if the church also offers maternity care coverage to its employees, or face fines and criminal penalties. “Washington state has gone out of its way to bully churches and other religious non-profits to violate their beliefs by paying for abortions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The Supreme Court has consistently held that government hostility toward people of faith is unconstitutional. The state’s policy violates the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause by targeting Cedar Park’s legitimate internal policies and religious beliefs.”
As part of its desire to care for its employees and their families, Cedar Park provides comprehensive insurance coverage for maternity care” the statement reads. “Cedar Park believes that maternity care is an integral part of its call to provide for the health of its employees and their families. However Cedar Park seeks to offer health insurance coverage to its employees in a way that does not also cause it to pay for abortions.” The Washington State Catholic Conference had also expressed concern over the bill’s lack of religious exemptions before it passed last year.
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