Federal lawsuit challenging the insurance mandate of the 2017 Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA)

Written by Trevor Lane, ORTL communications manager

On September 5, 2023, Oregon Right to Life (ORTL), with James Bopp, Jr., of the Bopp Law Firm, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the insurance mandate of the 2017 Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA). The lawsuit argues that RHEA runs afoul of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by violating ORTL’s right to free exercise of religion.

The state of Oregon is attempting to force Oregon Right to Life to fund abortion coverage for employees through this nonprofit’s health insurance. This coercion was included in the Reproductive Health Equity Act and attempts to direct the funding of ORTL’s supporters to aid in the death of innocent, unborn children.

RHEA requires any health benefit plan offered in the state of Oregon to provide coverage for abortion. Although the law includes some narrow exemptions, none of them allow Oregon Right to Life to operate according to its values. ORTL could easily be forced to fund the destruction of innocent, unborn children — a direct assault on the mission and conscience rights of ORTL.

That’s why Oregon Right to Life is asking the court to intervene and protect our rights. The mandate in the Reproductive Health Equity Act violates ORTL’s freedom to operate in a way that reflects our organizational values as protected by the First Amendment.

Oregon Right to Life has confidence from multiple recent rulings in favor of conscience rights over abortion insurance mandates. These rulings matter in the present case. Additionally, ORTL could end up in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, either because of a negative result in district court or an appeal by the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already clarified religious liberty law in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Following Fulton, two federal district courts in Foothill Church v. Watanabe and Skyline Wesleyan Church v. Cal. Dep’t of Managed Health Care held that organizations could not be forced by the government to fund abortions through their employee health insurance plans in violation of their religious beliefs protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Oregon Right to Life’s expert legal team believes they have an exceptional case.

To stay up to date on this and other life-related cases, text ORTL to 50457.


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