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Obama Refuses to Protect Civil Rights of California Churches

Contact: Jeff Sagnip, 202-225-3765; chrissmith.house.gov 

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- "Nearly two years after California imposed its draconian mandate that requires all insurance companies to pay for abortion the Obama Administration has reached a new low -- reinterpreting the Weldon amendment to allow the mandate to continue," said Rep. Chris Smith, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. "This means that Californians, including churches, will continue to be forced to pay for elective abortions in their insurance plans."

Since August of 2014 the state of California has mandated that all churches in the state must cover all abortions in their insurance plans – even in plans where abortion had previously been excluded. Numerous churches filed complaints with the HHS Office of Civil Rights seeking enforcement of the Weldon Amendment. The Weldon Amendment is an annual appropriations rider, signed into law consistently since 2004, which protects against state-imposed discrimination on the basis of declining to pay for or participate in abortion.  Today the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released its results of the investigation into the California mandate saying "OCR found no violation of the Weldon Amendment and is closing this matter without further action."

Smith continued, "The Weldon amendment – named for the Florida Congressman Dave Weldon who authored it – has been renewed and signed into law annually, including by President Obama. The Weldon Amendment protects against state-imposed abortion mandates. But Obama's Administration has again shown blatant disregard for the rule of law. This decision illustrates the far reaches of Obama's radical pro-abortion ideology – forcing churches and communities of faith that have pro-life convictions to participate in and pay for a practice that dismembers and chemically poisons unborn children.

"Congress must not let this discrimination stand. We must take this issue out of the hands of the Obama Administration by moving enforcement of current conscience protections to the courts. Congress needs to enact legislation so churches and other victims have a 'private right of action' so they can have their day in court."

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