Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys representing Cedar Park Church filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Wednesday after a lower court ruled that the church must violate its constitutionally protected pro-life religious beliefs and abide by the state's mandate that all Washington employers provide abortion coverage for employees.
"Churches should be free to operate according to their faith without being threatened by the government," says ADF attorney Kevin Theriot.
In July 2021, the 9th Circuit reversed the district court's decision to dismiss Cedar Park Church's case that was filed after Washington state Senate Bill 6219 was signed into law in March 2018.
As ADF explains in a press release, the law "requires Cedar Park to provide coverage for abortion if the church also offers maternity care coverage to its employees—or face fines and criminal penalties, including imprisonment."
This time on the merits, the district court has ruled against the church again, prompting the appeal.
"States should not be interfering with the affairs of the church," says Theriot. "It's wrong to force a church or anyone else to pay for abortion."
"An abortion mandate doesn't have any place in a free society, whether that's forcing a church or anyone else to attempt to cover abortion," the attorney adds.
Legislators maintain that abortion is a right, but Theriot points out that churches "have the freedom to set their internal policies about the importance of life," and that is true from conception to natural death.
"The Constitution protects that freedom, and that's what this case is about," he concludes.