August 29, 2014, Vol. 7, No. 28
In this Issue:
- California to Catholic Colleges: Any Abortion. Any Time. Period.
- State Takes Steps to Insure Due Process for Unaccompanied Minors
- Legislature Wrapping Up; Bills Head to Governor
- On the Web
California to Catholic Colleges: Any Abortion. Any Time. Period.
The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) - bowing to political pressure from Planned Parenthood and its supporters – has told health insurers that they cannot sell two Catholic universities any product that does not cover all abortions for employees.
The notice contradicts the Department’s own ruling earlier in the year that Jesuit-run Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and Santa Clara University are within the law by offering health plans that do not cover elective abortions.
California’s attempt to reverse course is expected to set in motion one or more legal battles. Regulation of managed health care plans is governed by the Knox Keene Act, enacted by California in 1975. DMHC contends that the law and several Supreme Court rulings support the inclusion of abortion in managed health care plans.
Once again, despite virtually unrestricted access to abortion for girls and women in California, proponents of abortion are trying to force their view on Catholic institutions. Even the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act does not enact such a draconian rule. The Federal law mandates at least one plan be available in each state that excludes most abortion coverage.
State Takes Steps to Insure Due Process for Unaccompanied Minors
Governor Brown and legislative leaders have reached an agreement to provide $3 million for legal assistance to unaccompanied minors in California.
The funding is needed because the U.S. Congress failed to deal with the unprecedented arrival of thousands of children at the U.S. border prior to its summer recess. Federal law requires that unaccompanied minors receive legal assistance during immigration court proceedings to determine their eligibility for political asylum.
The requirement is specified in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 – passed by a voice vote in the House and unanimous consent in the Senate in the final days of the Bush Administration. Children from bordering nations – Canada and Mexico – are not given such legal protection and instead bused immediately back to their home nation.
The 2008 law was never meant to apply to such a large number of minors and inadequately staffed immigration courts were rapidly swamped. Federal authorities have been trying to fast track the proceedings – called “rocket docket” - and providing only days for migrants to obtain an attorney.
The funding should be authorized before the end of the legislative session.
Legislature Wrapping Up; Bills Head to Governor
Thank you to the thousands of Catholic Legislative Network members who took action on our string of Action Alerts during the last few weeks. Lawmakers will adjourn their two-year session sometime over the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Many measures we have been following have been sent to the Governor for his signature, including:
- SUPPORT - AB 1579 would offer CalWORKs cash assistance to a needy pregnant woman and would both acknowledge the humanity of her unborn child and allow her a dignified means to prepare for the birth of her baby. (Catholic Advocacy Day bill.)
- OPPOSE - SB 1053 is the latest attempt to narrow the definition of a religious organization in California. It would define a religious entity so narrowly as to shackle the freedom of people and organizations to follow deeply held beliefs.
- SUPPORT - AB 1585 would allow courts to dismiss charges of prostitution and solicitation against victims of human trafficking when it is shown their actions were committed under duress and would grant these individuals the opportunity to seek employment, licensing, and/or certification without having the past prostitution offenses reported.
Two bills are already on the Governor’s desk. The Action Alert on these bills is still active here:
- SUPPORT - SB 174 & SB 798 would increase the opportunity for low-income students to better attain a higher education by helping them pay for textbooks, transportation, rent, food, health care and other living expenses.
Beginning next week, the Network will release a series of new alerts urging the Governor to sign or veto several measures. With the crush of legislation at the end of the session, he has extra time in which to take action.
On some controversial bills, he may wait to issue a veto at the last minute or he could make an announcement on a plethora of bills late on a Friday afternoon to avoid publicity. The Governor may also wish to curry favor with voters by holding a press event to publicize the signing of a bill or group of measures.
Because of the variety of ways the signings could be handled, the Catholic Legislative Network will issue Action Alerts early in the signing period. Please respond quickly to Alerts when they are distributed. And, remember, even if you have already sent an email to your Assembly Member or State Senator, measures will now be before the Governor and he will need a new email from you.
On the Web
- Don't forget: a special collection will be held in dioceses across the country during the first few weeks of September. It will assist humanitarian relief in the Middle East.
- Labor Day is Monday and, like Pope Francis, the bishops are concerned about the plight of the worker and the lack of employment for young adults.