The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled that Washington state cannot force a Seattle-area Christian church to pay for abortion in its health insurance plan, Alliance Defending Freedom reported in a press release.
“No church should be forced to cover abortions, and certainly not a church like Cedar Park that dedicates its ministry to protecting and celebrating life,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves.
The federal appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision.
The Western District Court ruled in Cedar Park Assembly of God of Kirkland v. Kreidler that the church could not sue the state because it lacked standing.
The lower court found that the church had not suffered injury from the law, Senate Bill 6219, which forces them to pay for an unborn child’s surgical dismemberment.
The 9th Circuit Court disagreed.
“Cedar Park’s complaint plausibly alleged that, due to the enactment of SB 6219, its health insurer (Kaiser Permanente) stopped offering a plan with abortion coverage restrictions and Cedar Park could not procure comparable replacement coverage,” the court wrote in its opinion. “This is sufficient to state an injury in fact that is fairly traceable to SB 6219.”
Now Cedar Park has won the right to hear the case on its merits before the district court.
“Today’s decision is a big step forward in preventing the government from targeting churches and we look forward to continue challenging this law at the district court,” said John Bursch, ADF senior counsel and vice president of appellate.
Cedar Park faces the prospect of more injury if the court does not protect its employees from violating their belief in the sanctity of life.
If Cedar Park’s employees were to buy health insurance that covers maternity care but not child dismemberment, then they could be subject to fines or imprisonment.
“Washington state has no legal authority to force places of worship to fund abortions and violate their constitutional rights, as well as their religious beliefs,” Bursch said.