New York diocese sues to rescind insurer abortion mandate

AP News
|
Posted: May 13, 2016 2:24 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has sued state insurance regulators over requirements that workplace health plans cover employee abortions.

The Department of Financial Services lacks legislative authority to impose the requirements, and the mandate is unconstitutional, because it forces employers with religious and conscientious objections to abortion to help pay for them, according to the lawsuit filed in state court.

"As a result of the clear and unequivocal religious moral teaching against abortion, the notion of a church institution providing its employees, regardless of their particular religious affiliation, with health insurance coverage for abortion, is morally unacceptable as a matter of religious and moral conviction," the lawsuit says.

The complaint specifically faults the department's "model language" to insurers in 2015 and 2016 requiring individual and small group health plans to include coverage of both "therapeutic" abortions and "non-therapeutic" abortions in cases of rape, incest or fetal malformation. The suit also says that abortion coverage "is encrypted in health insurance contracts under the rubric of 'medically necessary' surgery."

Department spokesman Richard Loconte said Friday they are reviewing the complaint.

"We simply cannot live with this policy, and unfortunately have been left with no choice but to bring this action," Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said.

Also joining in the lawsuit were the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, trustees of the Albany Episcopal Diocese, Catholic Charities of the Brooklyn Diocese, the St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church Society of Amherst, First Bible Baptist Church in Rochester, Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Albany, a Plattsburgh construction company and a Saratoga County woman who works for a religious organization.