By Jessica Easthope
Another victory for religious freedom in the fight for life. This week the United States Supreme Court sent a case back down to the New York appellate division asking it to reconsider a ruling.
“The First Amendment rights of individuals and organizations are getting a greater hearing these days from the Supreme Court so that is very encouraging,” said Director of Pro-Life Activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, Kathleen Gallagher.
The case brought against New York State by the Diocese of Albany and other religious groups challenged a mandate that would require employers to provide abortion coverage in their employee health insurance plans. The decision comes based on a Supreme Court decision earlier this year over religious liberties in another case – Fulton vs Philadelphia.
“To have the court say so definitively,‘take another look here because we just ruled in the Fulton case and you should reread that case,” said Kathleen.
The mandated abortion coverage was placed on insurers in 2017 by the New York State Department of Financial Services. It did, at the time, make room for a religious exemption – however it was only for those primarily serving people of their own faith and not institutions with any kind of outreach ministry.
“Under their very narrow definition of religion, Jesus Christ wouldn’t even qualify because he served people of all faiths and no faith at all,” added Kathleen.
The appellate division will now have to rehear the case and decide if the Diocese of Albany and other groups will be exempt.
Sending the case back down showed promise for religious leaders like Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger who said in a statement:
“We are gratified and grateful that the Supreme Court has recognized the serious constitutional concerns over New York State’s heavy-handed abortion mandate on religious employers.”
If the appellate division rehears the case and still rules against the plaintiffs, it’s possible the case could go to the Supreme Court.