A Police cyclist rides past the New York Court of...

A Police cyclist rides past the New York Court of Appeals, May 5, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. New York's high court has upheld a rule requiring companies with health insurance plans to cover medically necessary abortions. The decision from the Court of Appeals on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, came after a lawsuit from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and other religious groups that argued the rule violated their religious freedoms. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York can continue to require companies with health insurance plans to cover medically necessary abortions, the state’s highest court ruled Tuesday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and other church groups challenged the rule, arguing that the policy's exemption for religious employers was too narrow and would force some businesses to violate their religious freedoms.

State financial regulators approved the policy in 2017. The state Legislature then separately codified the abortion coverage regulation into law in 2022. The religious groups sued over the regulation, not the law.

The Court of Appeals case had larger significance because the state's law could be challenged using a similar legal argument, if the religious groups were successful in their case against the regulation.

Arguments before the high court last month centered on whether the state's criteria for religious exemptions were too vague and gave officials too much discretion to determine which companies wouldn't have to follow the rule.

The state defines a religious employer as one whose purpose is to spread religious values, primarily employs and serves people who share the same religious tenets, and is categorized as a religious nonprofit under federal law.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, called the ruling a “critical step towards protecting these fundamental freedoms.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany said it would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We believe this is unconstitutional since it involves government entanglement in the fundamental rights of free exercise of faith and conscience,” a statement from the diocese read. “The final decision on constitutionality will be by the United States Supreme Court.”

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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