“Our Founding Fathers established constitutional freedoms so that individuals can express their religious beliefs in the public square. They also wanted to ensure that the government could not intrude in the deeply held convictions of all Americans or of any church.”
In August 2014, California’s Department of Managed Health Care sent a letter to seven insurance companies stating that they are required to include elective abortions in their health plans, with no religious exceptions.
The letter was in response to actions from two Catholic universities, Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University. They chose to exclude elective abortion from their employee insurance policies because of their opposition to abortion.
Last week, Skyline Wesleyan Church filed a lawsuit against the health care department. The church charged it was being forced to comply with the mandate and violate its religious beliefs.
Garlow’s pro-life convictions are deeply rooted in his Christian faith and in his family. He has four adopted children. His oldest adopted daughter, Janie, was born from a gang rape.
He recounted his daughter’s testimony at a public hearing opposing a county hospital’s decision to start performing abortions. Janie, then 12 years old, said, “I may have been an unwanted pregnancy, but I am a wanted child.”
Garlow said this helped inspire him to stand up for his convictions.
“Janie stood up for truth that day and as followers of Christ, we are called to stand for truth,” Garlow said. “Skyline Wesleyan Church believes in standing up for biblical truth. This is part of our DNA.”
According to California’s health care department, elective abortions constitute “basic health care” and are on an equal footing with all other maternity services. Its August 2014 letter claimed the mandate is supported by California law.
A 1975 state health care law and the California constitution, it said, 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,” the letter stated.
Garlow said he disagrees with the state’s definition of health care.
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“The Department of Managed Health Care believes providing elective abortions is part of basic health care. They couldn’t be further from the truth,” Garlow said.
“When my wife battled cancer, her treatments were legitimate and necessary for health care. Violently ripping an innocent child from its mother’s womb is not health care – but the exact opposite,” he said.
“Killing innocent life is destructive and can never be considered a health benefit,” Garlow emphasized.
The health care department established the mandate without any public comment or notice, the process normally required by California law.
Erik Stanley, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, represents Skyline Wesleyan Church in the lawsuit. He charged that the department avoided this process because it knew it would not get public approval if it followed legal protocol.
“The department went about this the wrong way and did not use the proper public regulation process,” Stanley told CNA. “They rammed this through because they knew there would be public outcry – especially among religious organizations and churches.”