Politics

Obama Administration Refuses to Enforce ‘Right of Conscience,’ Legal Group Says

obamafrom – The Daily Signal – by Leah Jessen

The Obama administration refuses to enforce federal law that protects Americans’ freedom of conscience, a Christian legal aid group says.

In 2014, California began mandating that employee health plans cover elective abortions. A state agency is refusing to exempt churches from the mandate, said Casey Mattox, senior counsel withAlliance Defending Freedom.

“Churches should never be forced to cover elective abortion in their insurance plans, and for 10 years the Weldon Amendment has protected the right to have plans that do not include coverage for abortion on demand,” Mattox said in a statement.

The federal Weldon Amendment prohibits states receiving taxpayer funds under federal law from discriminating against health insurance plans that don’t cover abortion, Mattox has argued.

“The administration’s refusal to enforce [the Weldon Amendment] continues its pattern of enforcing laws it wants to enforce, refusing to enforce others, and inventing new interpretations of others out of whole cloth,” Mattox said in a formal statement.

“California has outlawed the licensing of any health care plan in the state that does not cover elective abortion. It is perfectly clear that California is violating the law and the Obama administration has frequently been refusing to enforce the law,” Mattox told The Daily Signal.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed two lawsuits in California challenging the rule.

Since the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, requires employers to provide health insurance coverage, California churches have been left without a way to opt out of paying for abortions,Alliance Defending Freedom says.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mattox said, “is obligated to go enforce this law itself, and it has decided that it is not going to enforce the law.”

“The administration’s refusal to enforce [the Weldon Amendment] continues its pattern of enforcing laws it wants to enforce, refusing to enforce others, and inventing new interpretations of others out of whole cloth,” Mattox said in a statement.

The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services sent a response letter to several formal complaints filed by Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom over the California Department of Managed Health Care’s decision to force all employers to cover elective abortions.

In the letter, the Obama administration dismissed the “right of conscience” complaints after concluding that California’s law does not violate federal law, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

Jocelyn Samuels, director of the federal agency’s Office for Civil Rights, wrote in the responseletter: “A finding that [California Department of Managed Health Care] has violated the Weldon Amendment might require the government to rescind all funds appropriated under the Appropriations Act to the state of California.”

Rescinding the taxpayer money, Samuels added, “would raise substantial questions about the constitutionality of the Weldon Amendment.”

Addressing that position, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Mattox said:

The Obama administration says enforcing the Weldon Amendment against California would violate the Constitution because you would be withholding all of these funds from the state. Which is very interesting because at the exact same time, you have the administration telling North Carolina that it’s going to withhold funds under the exact same appropriations bill.

The Justice Department sent North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, a letter in May saying the state’s “bathroom bill” violated federal law. The measure, which McCrory signed in March, made bathrooms in government buildings accessible based on a person’s biological sex, not his or her gender identity.

This is a “blatant contradiction,” Mattox said.

“Basically, the administration is speaking out of both sides of its mouth,” he said.

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Bud Kremer
5 years ago

The citizens of California will never regain control of their government until Government workers are proscribed from unionization. It is a one party state and its laws are a good example for no one.

Patrick Wu
5 years ago
Reply to  Bud Kremer

To be clear, this is an example of a policy disagreement, not a legal one.

The text of Weldon Amendment (printed below) clearly states that the amendment applies only to a ‘health care entity.’ Churches, because they are not health care entities, cannot claim protection under the Weldon Amendment. The health care entities in question, namely the insurers, have no aversion to providing for abortions (they provide their other clients with such plans) and thus also cannot assert protections under the Weldon Amendment.

This is why the Department of Health and Human Services asserted that churches did not receive protection under the amendment. And if you find this situation odious, ask Congress to pass a law. But as it stands, the Administration is enforcing the law as written.

The full text of the Weldon Amendment has been reproduced below and can be found at: http://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr/civilrights/und erstanding/ConscienceProtect/publaw111_117_123_stat_ 3034.pdf
Weldon Amendment, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-117, 123 Stat 3034
United States Public Laws
111th Congress – First Session
PL 111-117, December 16, 2009, 123 Stat 3034 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2009


SEC. 508. …
TITLE V GENERAL PROVISIONS
(d)(1) None of the funds made available in this Act may be made available to a Federal agency or program, or to a State or local government, if such agency, program, or government subjects any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
(2) In this subsection, the term “health care entity” includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.

PaulO
5 years ago

if the shoe were on the other foot,

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”

– George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia (1789)

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