Two Catholic Colleges Are Being Forced to Cover Abortions in California

California Governor Edmund G. 'Jerry' Brown.
California Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown. | (Photo: Justin Short, Governor's Office)

Two Catholic academic institutions in California have been told by the state government that their healthcare programs must cover abortions.

Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University were initially given reprieve from being forced to pay for abortions as part of their insurance policies, however, the earlier decision was reversed.

In a letter sent out last month, California's Department of Managed Health Care concluded that "it erroneously approved or did not object to such discriminatory language in some evidence of coverage filings."

"The purpose of this letter is to remind plans that the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act
of 1975 (Knox Keene Act) requires the provision of basic healthcare services," continued the DMHC letter.

"… [T]he California Constitution prohibits health plans from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy. Thus, all health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally."

Before the Aug. 22 letter, California allowed for insurance companies to provide plans to the two Catholic universities that limited the types of abortions that could be covered.

"Insurance coverage for abortion is not mandated by the federal healthcare law. But California guarantees abortion, both by statute and by privacy protections, in the state Constitution," reported Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Until the current controversy arose, insurers in California had treated all abortions sought by women in their health plans as medically necessary," Egelko added.

The DMHC position considers all abortions, regardless of reason, to be "medically necessary" and thus a procedure that should be covered by insurance companies.

In response to the DMHC letter, the Life Legal Defense Foundation and the Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter of protest to the change.

Sent to DMHC Director Shelley Rouillard on behalf of the Cardinal Newman Society, the LLDF-ADF letter argued that requiring the two Catholic universities to provide coverage for all abortions was contrary to federal law.

The two pro-life groups quoted from the Weldon Amendment, which allows federal funds to be deprived from a state entity that discriminates against a health plan that limits abortion coverage.

"DMHC cannot deny approval to or otherwise penalize a health insurance plan for failing to provide coverage of some or all abortions and remain in compliance with the Weldon Amendment," read the letter.

"In its failed lawsuit against the amendment, California admitted that all of its departments are subject to the amendment due to some of those departments receiving over $40 billion in federal funds for programs in the areas of education, health, and employment."

The pro-life groups added that they will file a complaint with the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Civil Rights if DMHC maintains that the universities must pay for abortions.

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