New York’s Abortion Insurance Mandate May See Supreme Court Challenge

On April 23, 2021, a coalition of Catholic and Protestant churches and organizations represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty asked the Supreme Court of the United States to hear their constitutional challenge to New York’s requirement that employers include abortion coverage within their employees’ health insurance plans.

In Diocese of Albany v. Lacewell, a group of plaintiffs sued the State of New York to challenge a Department of Financial Services policy requiring employers to cover abortions in their health insurance plans. The plaintiffs include First Bible Baptist Church in Hilton and Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Colonie. The Becket Fund summarizes the case as follows:

When the New York State Department of Financial Services initially proposed the abortion mandate, it promised to respect the First Amendment by exempting employers with religious objections. But after facing pressure from abortion activists, New York narrowed the exemption to protect only religious entities whose purpose is to inculcate religious values and who primarily serve and hire coreligionists. This narrow exemption thus doesn’t apply to most religious ministries that serve people regardless of their faith. For example, the exemption doesn’t extend…to the First Bible Baptist Church, which operates social justice ministries for underserved community members.

After losing their case in state court, the plaintiffs (now petitioners) have sought Supreme Court involvement. In addition to the Becket Fund, the petitioners are represented by the law firms of Jones Day and Tobin and Dempf.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms thanks the petitioners and their attorneys for their courageous work on this important case. New York’s abortion insurance mandate is not even required by law. Even if it were required by law, this anti-life policy would offend the First Amendment. NYCF calls upon the Supreme Court to overturn this repugnant policy and protect the freedom of churches and other Christian groups to operate in accordance with their own beliefs.