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"At the very heart of human freedom is the right to religious freedom, since it deals with man’s most fundamental relationship: his relationship with God." - Pope John Paul II, Address to Diplomats, January 2005

Religious Liberty at USCCB

Catholic Sisters File Petition Against the California Department of Managed Health Care

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October 26, 2015

Oct. 26, 2015 – SACRAMENTO, CA – A Roman Catholic order of Sisters, the Guadulapanas Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, filed a petition today in California Superior Court in Sacramento asking the court to review a state requirement that compels the Sisters to purchase a health plan that provides coverage for all abortions, including late-term and gender selection abortions.  The Guadalupanas Sisters, who serve the poor and vulnerable in Los Angeles and believe unequivocally in the sanctity of unborn human life, are being compelled by the State of California to violate their deepest moral convictions.

On Aug. 22, 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) issued a directive to private market California managed health care plans that required them to start covering all abortions, as a “basic health service.”  As a result, thousands of California religious employers, including the Guadulapanas Sisters, cannot purchase a managed health care plan that excludes abortion-on-demand.

The Sisters’ petition asserts that in issuing its new regulation, the DMHC violated California’s Administrative Procedures Act (APA) – the state’s rule-making process – by not providing any notice of intended rule-making, and no period for public review or public comment.  The issuance of this regulation in violation of the APA has denied the Sisters and other Californians their legal right to receive advance notice of and publicly comment on this regulation before it became final.

“The State of California is discriminating against religious groups, such as the Guadalupanas Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, who like millions of other Californians and a majority of Americans, believe that protecting conscience rights is a fundamental obligation of government,” said the Sisters’ attorney, James F. Sweeney.  “The Sisters seek only to fulfill their mission of helping the poorest and neediest in the California communities they serve without having the government compel them to fund directly something they believe is fundamentally wrong.” 

If the Superior Court judge grants the Sisters’ petition, the DMHC’s regulation would be invalidated, and the State would be required to follow its own rule-making process in order to impose such an unnecessary and unjust policy in the future.