Cedar Park Assembly of God church in Bothell has sued the state of Washington on International Women’s Day in an attempt to overturn a state law mandating all insurance that covers maternity coverage also cover abortion care.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court Western District of Washington in Tacoma by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-based organization that has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The suit seeks an injunction from the court to allow the church to stop providing coverage for abortion under its employee health insurance. SB 6219 was signed into law in 2018 and mandates employers provide coverage for reproductive health, including abortions.
“Washington’s attack on people of faith is intentional. It represents the kind of deliberate religious persecution that our country was founded to prevent,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit names Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Gov. Jay Inslee as defendants in its complaint. The lawsuit said it would cost the church around $243,000 in additional costs to become self-insured. Cedar Park employs around 185 people who are eligible for health insurance, according to the lawsuit.
Kreidler sent the following comment to this news organization in an email on Friday:
“I can’t speak to the merits of the lawsuit at this time until we’ve officially been served and had time to review the case,” Kreidler said. “Washington state does have a conscience clause that protects religious freedom and we have always respected that law. We do know the organization that is behind this suit — The Alliance Defending Freedom — and it has predominantly worked on denying women the right to choose.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has supported re-criminalizing homosexuality in the U.S. and abroad, and has also defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people outside of the U.S.
Cedar Park itself has given tens of thousands of dollars fighting gay marriage in 2012 and the anti-trans “bathroom bills.”
This report will be updated as more information becomes available.