A group of California churches won a major religious liberty victory Thursday when a federal court ruled that the state of California cannot force them to cover abortion in their insurance plans.
At issue was a rule by the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) that requires companies to offer insurance plans that cover abortion.
Three California churches – Foothill Church, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills and Shepherd of the Hills Church – subsequently sued the state after being denied insurance that did not include abortion coverage.
On Thursday, U.S. District Chief Judge Kimberly Mueller, an Obama nominee, sided with the churches, ruling that the state had violated the churches’ rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment. That clause says Congress shall make no law “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
The state’s action, Mueller wrote, imposes a “substantial burden” on their religious…