The Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA) is challenging a 2019 state law requiring employee health insurance plans to cover abortions, claiming the mentioned law violates freedom of religion and conscience.

Executive Director of IBSA, Nate Adams said, "The lawsuit states that our deeply held beliefs oppose abortion and, as an organization with religious beliefs, we should not be compelled to provide abortion coverage for our employees."

"It's amazing to us that this could be passed as a law. So we asked basically for relief or for an exception from being required to provide abortion coverage for our employees, and by extension the churches that are a member of our association," Adams said.

The Illinois Reproductive Health Act, passed in May 2019, provides insurance requirements for the coverage of abortion which means it requires every health insurance plan in the state that provides pregnancy coverage to also cover elective chemical and surgical abortions, without exception.

Peter Breen, the vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society called the state law a "blatant violation of the religious and conscience rights of Illinoisans" and argued that the Illinois mandate violates existing state laws such as the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

Breen claims, "the secular forces" were behind this mandate with "no hesitation in wielding state power against our sincerely held, common-sense religious beliefs" and concluded to object paying for health insurance coverage of abortion.

Picture of a Fetus
(Photo : flickr)
Baptist Group representing the churches of Illinois file lawsuit against a mandate that requires healthcare coverage that covers abortion

For support of the lawsuit against the mandate, Breen cites the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. in which Hobby Lobby was granted a religious exemption to the Health and Human Services' contraception and abortion mandate.

As a part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the mandate required employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives including those that cause abortions, but it exempted churches. 

In 2017, the Health and Human Services extended exemptions to the mandate to include nonprofits and in 2018, the Trump administration issued executive orders guaranteeing religious and freedom of conscience exemptions to the federal rule.

Progress is supervening little by little so there is hope in protecting the freedom of religion and conscience of the church in America.