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Anti-abortion group challenges RHA in federal complaint

Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

* Thomas More Society press release…

On October 21, 2019 the Thomas More Society filed a complaint against Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. The new Illinois law requires health insurance policies to cover elective chemical and surgical abortions. According to the complaint, this mandate — which compels businesses and individuals to pay for even late term abortion coverage and offers no religious exemptions — violates the federal Weldon Amendment and Affordable Care Act

“This abortion-coverage mandate is a blatant violation of the religious and conscience rights of many who live or work in Illinois,” explained Thomas More Society attorney Michael McHale. “While the secular forces behind this mandate often erroneously object to any influence of religion on the state, here they had no hesitation in wielding state power against our sincerely held, common-sense religious beliefs to avoid paying for health insurance coverage of abortion.

The law, now known as Illinois Public Act 101-13, mandates every health insurance policy in Illinois that provides pregnancy-related benefits to provide coverage of elective abortions, and to do so without cost-sharing beyond that required for pregnancy-related benefits. It does not include any exemptions for religious individuals, religious organizations, or even churches.

The Thomas More Society, a national nonprofit public interest law firm and major force in the Constitutional defense of religious liberty, filed the complaint on its own behalf and on behalf of Flossmoor dentist, Dr. Richard Mantoan and his dental practice, Southland Smiles, Ltd. Both companies sponsor small group health insurance plans for their employees and offer a number of policy options purchased through BlueCross Blue Shield of Illinois. The new mandate requires both businesses to purchase health insurance policies that cover abortions.

The complaint details how the Illinois abortion-coverage mandate violates the federal Weldon Amendment, putting Illinois in jeopardy of losing billions of dollars of federal funding. The Weldon Amendment ensures that federal appropriations to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education may not be issued to any government that discriminates against a “health care entity,” including an insurance plan sponsor, on the basis that it does not provide health insurance coverage of abortion.

“This is exactly what the Weldon Amendment prohibits,” McHale said. “Illinois cannot force those of us who do not believe in paying for abortions to either pay for abortion coverage or drop our insurance. Doing so will require Illinois to forfeit federal funding for essential programs such as Medicaid.”

“Additional provisions of this radical abortion policy will force Illinois taxpayers to foot the bill,” added McHale, referring to the federal Affordable Care Act’s provision requiring a separation of abortion costs from other health care expenses. “It’s a direct violation of federal law. We should expect better from our lawmakers.”

“We are confident that the Office for Civil Rights will take our complaint seriously,” declared McHale. “Federal law clearly prohibits this brazen attempt to encroach upon our rights conscience. We urge immediate intervention to halt this illegal mandate.”

The complaint is here.

* React from Brigid Leahy, Senior Director of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Illinois…

The Thomas More Society’s complaint against the Reproductive Health Act is the latest tactic in an ongoing campaign to end access to safe and legal abortion. The Thomas Moore Society couldn’t stop the Reproductive Health Act in the state legislature, so they are desperately turning to the Trump Administration for help in cutting off access to abortion in Illinois.

The Reproductive Health Act ensures that everyone can make a personal decision when it comes to reproductive health care, including birth control, pregnancy-related care, and abortion. Having adequate coverage for care means people have the ability to make the decision that is best for them. Everyone should have coverage for a full range of reproductive health care, including abortion with access to safe medical care. Providing insurance coverage helps ensure that they will be able to see a licensed, quality health provider. Ten years ago, insurance plans routinely covered abortion just like other health care services. But, in recent years, it has become harder for Illinoisans to get insurance that covers abortion. The Reproductive Health Act addresses this issue by requiring state regulated insurance plans that cover pregnancy-related care to include coverage for abortion. This requirement is similar to a Maine law that passed earlier this year. In addition, California, New York, Oregon, and Washington require all state-regulated private health plans to include coverage for abortion.

* Personal PAC’s Terry Cosgrove…

It’s no surprise that extremists aligned with President Trump, such as Peter Breen and the Thomas More Society, who want to make abortion and birth control illegal for all women, are doing everything imaginable to enforce their right-wing religious views on everyone in Illinois.

* The RHA’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)…

Once again exhibiting their complete disconnect from reality and the truth, the Thomas More Society has found a special ally in their efforts to limit access to reproductive health care in Illinois – the Trump Administration. Having been soundly defeated in the legislature – even after engaging in misrepresentations and exaggerations about the impact of the RHA, it was inevitable that they would turn to their friends in the Trump-Pence Administration, still using the tired lies we rejected this session. While we advanced access to care in Illinois, Trump appointees in Washington have attempted block people from accessing the reproductive health care, including abortion care, they need. This is just a speed bump. It will not succeed.

I asked for some examples of the group recycling “tired lies” and she sent me these two…

- The health care right of conscience act remains intact and religious objections are respected.

- The preposterous fear-mongering over abortion late in pregnancy. This is the biggest red herring of all and completely disrespects both pregnant people and health care professionals in their suggestions that it is anything but a medical tragedy when there is no other option but to end the pregnancy. Nobody does this on a whim. No doctor and no parent. It’s infuriating.

…Adding… Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake)…

This complaint is just one more ineffective attempt to deprive women of their right to quality health care.

Illinois expanded access to care with the Reproductive Health Act despite opposition from anti-women groups like the Thomas More Society, who seek to force their extremist politics onto others and limit access to safe and legal abortion.

As we proved when we passed the RHA, Illinois will not let the Thomas More Society or the Trump Administration get in the way of women’s health. Reproductive care is health care.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

34 Comments
  1. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 12:22 pm:

    Surely the Thomas Moore Society understands that nobody is being forced to work at any of these businesses by the state.

    Don’t like what your company is doing? Work somewhere else.

    Isn’t that the free market solution to everything else?


  2. - Cadillac - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    Thomas More Society: Here are the federal laws that are being ignored….

    Illinois: Because Trump


  3. - DIstant watcher - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    This escalation, from “my opposition to abortion means I won’t have one” to “my opposition to abortion means no company I deal with can pay for one,” is an absurd overreach. Swing your fist all you want but keep it away from my face.


  4. - Glengarry - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    Just let the woman decide. It’s her body, I’m pretty sure Thomas Moore doesn’t know a darned thing about feminine healthcare and hygiene.


  5. - Flat Bed Ford - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 12:44 pm:

    Breen is going to Breen. 1957 called and they want their female denigration back.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:16 pm:

    Mr. Breen as a civilian doing his work.

    It lost in the GA, he’s gonna try the courts.

    Time will tell if Breen gets his seat back to argue for the law’s repeal.


  7. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    I don’t see anyone standing in the way of “birth control” as I understand the term. As a sincere Pro-life person, I do object to paying for this procedure with public money. PP exists for abortion. Few if any other tests are available in their clinics.
    If Rep. Cassidy is so concerned about Red Herrings, perhaps she might advise Cosgrove to adopt a different motto than “Pro Choice, No exceptions”. The Governor of Virginia has already defined what the extent of no exceptions means…and it’s not a pro-healthcare message.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    === As a sincere Pro-life person===

    Who supported Bruce Rauner… twice.


  9. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    == supported Bruce Rauner… twice.==

    Support is too strong a word. Voted for, yes. The alternatives were what they were. Don’t bother bringing up the downstate Senator with no chance. That’s not a choice.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:43 pm:

    === Voted for, yes.===

    That’s really all Rauner cared about.

    Your “pro-life” credentials are… optional.


  11. - Quibbler - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:43 pm:

    “I do object to paying for this procedure with public money.”

    The RHA doesn’t provide public funding for abortion. Gov. Rauner did expand Medicaid coverage for abortion via HB40, but if that really irritates you you’re always welcome to try Missouri.


  12. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    ===PP exists for abortion. Few if any other tests are available in their clinics.===

    That is a complete and total fabrication. Just because you don’t know what they do does not mean you can make (deleted) up about their services.

    Stick to your moral objections and let the rest of us discuss facts.


  13. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:54 pm:

    47, How frequently do you hear about Mammograms? PP doesn’t do them. I’m well aware of what they provide in the “clinics”. Abortion is their profit model. Little else. If you want to discuss all those tests? Have at it. They just don’t do them there. Even they admit they don’t.

    I seldom comment on this topic because I know where most of the regular commenters are on this one. There’s little potential to change any minds. Our state is becoming the Abortion Capitol of the Midwest. I know that’s ok with plenty of people. For me, it’s sad.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:54 pm:

    === “Pro Choice…===

    Ironically, when you vote “Pro Choice” it’s difficult to see your moral outrage.

    In fact, voting pro-choice and typing as you do is as phony as Rauner, lol


  15. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    ===Even they admit they don’t.===

    Again, that is a lie to further your moral agenda. How pathetic. Your moral objections are all you need to make your point. Deceiving people about legitimate health care for poor women is so Republican of you. Just stop.

    https://www.plannedparenthood.org/get-care/our-services


  16. - Quibbler - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:05 pm:

    == filed the complaint on its own behalf and on behalf of Flossmoor dentist, Dr. Richard Mantoan and his dental practice, Southland Smiles, Ltd. ==

    Per FEC filings, Dr. Mantoan is also a financial supporter of Rep. Dan Lipinski. Anyone in Flossmoor who cares about LGBT rights or reproductive freedom should get a new dentist rather keep supporting someone who’s apparently quite committed to opposing civil rights.


  17. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:07 pm:

    47, Sincerely, look more closely than this link. But, even in this link, it’s clear where the honey pot is.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    === But, even in this link, it’s clear where the honey pot is.===

    “I choose an alternative fact.”

    Is that how it goes?


  19. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:15 pm:

    It’s also clear you lied. Admit it or don’t, I don’t care.

    When so-called Christians lie to promote their political agenda, you will all burn in hell with the rest of us sinners.


  20. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    Referrals = Healthcare. If that’s true, I’m lying. It’s very clear what you can get there.

    Willy, you’re just goofy.


  21. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    === If that’s true, I’m lying. It’s very clear what you can get there.===

    Meh. You’re a phony who votes Pro-Choice in the end.


  22. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:31 pm:

    Goofy x 2.


  23. - Cailleach - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    If you haven’t personally received services at PP, maybe you should shut your mouth. In my younger years I went there for BC pills. I got annual breast & pelvic exams which would have found any number of health problems had there been any. That’s health care.


  24. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:38 pm:

    === Goofy x 2.===

    A “As a sincere Pro-life person“ voting for Pro-Choice Rauner, twice, after signing the sweeping abortion bill too… i think you’re hard on yourself, but being goofy x 2 as you say is your voting record on this. Yep.


  25. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    ===PP exists for abortion.===

    Horse hockey. PP provides a full range of women’s reproductive and gynecological care. A friend of mine is alive today because when she was in law school and had no insurance & no money, she was able to get free cancer screening at a PP clinic.

    ===Mammograms? PP doesn’t do them===

    Neither do most OB/GYNs. The equipment is too expensive. The do the same thing PP does: screen, then send their patients to an imaging center for the mammogram.

    You know what PP would be able to do less of if Christian conservatives would stop screaming and hollering about federal PP funding and government-funded birth control? Abortions.

    The abortion rate has plummeted to record lows the past few years thanks in large part to the ACA and the contraceptive mandate. If the abortion rate starts to go back up thanks to the Trump admin reversing and repealing those laws, that’ll be on pro-lifers. Own it.


  26. - ray - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 4:05 pm:

    Hey “A guy” you’re wrong about PP not having any services other than abortion. They also provide comprehensive reproductive health care. I am a man and always go to them for my STI screenings. They are always very kind and nice. Shout out to Planned Parenthood!


  27. - Christopher - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 6:16 pm:

    Invisible - Free market means don’t force the company to buy abortion insurance, so…
    Distant - Actually, it means the owner of a company doesn’t want to pay for abortion…
    Glengarry - The issue here isn’t who decides, but who the state forces to pay.
    Flat Bed - Denigration is taking rights away from a whole class of humans, like the unborn.
    All - Planned Parenthood does more abortions than anyone else. They take human life in the hundreds of thousands every year. If abortion is immoral, PP is a horrific org.


  28. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 6:34 pm:

    War is immoral too, Fr. Christopher, and like war, abortion is legal.

    Go out and win some elections or pray harder, either way, until abortion is outlawed, Planned Parenthood is legally entitled to be as horrific as it wants to be, or as courageous as it needs to be. Potato, potahto brother.


  29. - Christopher - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 6:59 pm:

    47th Ward - I concur that abortion and war both take human lives at an industrial scale.
    However, war out of self-defense is morally permissible. If Canada invaded America, a reasonable military response would be appropriate.
    That doesn’t justify killing an innocent toddler, newborn, or unborn human.
    Government is obligated to protect basic human rights.
    No one has the right to pick and choose which humans are denied equal treatment under the law regarding basic human rights.
    Treating the unborn different than the born is lethal discrimination based on projecting personal bias.
    Abortion violates the right to life of the abortion victim, who did nothing to deserve death.


  30. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 7:02 pm:

    - Christopher -

    You don’t like the law, but it’s the law.

    You can’t out-moral a passed law.

    You can repeal it, but that’s gonna take 60/30 signature.

    Good luck.

    Until then, it’s the law.


  31. - Christopher - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 7:20 pm:

    Oswego - I am aware it’s the law. I explained why the law is immoral just as many laws have been. I also took issue with the moral equivocation of unjustified homicide to justified war. Speaking of law, the Weldon Amendment is also the law and may curtail this abortion coverage requirement in RHA. If it does, I will be repeating your talking point to the crazy Cosgrove types of Illinois “You don’t like the law, but it’s the law.”

    https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr/civilrights/understanding/ConscienceProtect/publaw111_117_123_stat_3034.pdf


  32. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 7:23 pm:

    === I am aware it’s the law. I explained why the law is immoral just as many laws have been.===

    Opinion.

    Change the law.

    That’s your option.


  33. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 7:32 pm:

    === war out of self-defense is morally permissible===

    Just as abortion to protect the mother is also morally permissible. But this blog is focused not on morals, but instead on laws and the politics that influence those laws.

    Your moral beliefs are yours alone. The law is the law. And while abortion remains legal healthcare, it should remain accessible to all regardless of income. That is not a radical or controversial idea. It’s common sense and basic dignity.


  34. - Froganon - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 8:29 pm:

    Christopher & A Guy, it is my opinion that abortion is not immoral. Neither of you have the right to use the law to force your opinion on those of us who reject it. If you really want to stop abortions, make birth control and voluntary sterilization available to everyone who wants it at no cost to the patient.


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