The California Supreme Court has denied a petition from the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, a Catholic organization dedicated to alleviating poverty, which had challenged a new California rule that declared abortions “medically necessary” procedures that must be covered by health care service plans in California.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “A 1975 state law requires the plans to offer basic health care services, and the Department of Managed Health Care’s regulations say the plans must cover physician and hospital services where medically necessary.”

The heath care plans are licensed by the state which gives the state the power to regulate them.

For years, the department had permitted plans which only included “medically necessary” abortions performed to save the life of the mother. Yet, in 2014 the California Department of Managed Health Care singlehandedly revised the law with a new rule declaring that any voluntary abortion was “medically necessary.”

This is where the missionaries come in. In response to the rule, the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit filed suit, but lost twice, in the Superior Court of Sacramento County and a California Court of Appeals. The missionaries then took their case to the California Supreme Court asking the court to, “withdraw the previous opinion as a published decision that is binding on trial courts statewide.” This motion was unanimously rejected.

In an August 2019 opinion, a California Court of Appeals ruled against the Catholic group declaring that the law defines medically necessary treatment as “reasonable and necessary to protect life, to prevent significant illness or significant disability or to alleviate severe pain.” 

The appeals court also held that, “an abortion is one of two medically necessary options for the treatment of a woman’s pregnancy.”

It’s quite confounding why the court found an elective, voluntary abortion performed not to save the life of the mother as medically necessary. Most abortions are performed for economic or career reasons. So how does that count as a “medically necessary” operation meant to protect life, prevent illness or disability or alleviate severe pain?

It’s also unfortunate that the court believes, along with California’s Department of Managed Health Care, that a pregnancy is simply a condition to be treated, like cancer or heart disease. Somehow any discussion of the unborn baby’s rights under the law was left out of the opinion and California law.

“California regulators appear to have deliberately ignored the deep moral and ethical objections to abortion held by so many in the state, said Andrew Rivas, executive director of the California Catholic Conference according to National Review. “Debate is healthy and should never be suppressed in this manner or any issue in which so many citizens feel so passionate about.” 

It’s unsurprising that this rule and opinion would come out of California, one of the most liberal states in the Union. 

A pregnancy is not a condition that needs treatment. 

It’s a gift of human life that must be cherished.

You can follow this author on Twitter @MettlerZachary


Additional Resources: 

Free Counseling Consultation & Referral 

Women Considering Abortion Need Support 

How to Help a Friend Who Wants an Abortion


Photo by Ken Lund