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(LifeSiteNews) — Two federal courts have ruled against the California government over its efforts to force churches to subsidize elective abortions, with state officials agreeing to pay the religious institutions $1.4 million in legal fees.

Since 2014, several churches have been resisting California administrative actions forcing all employers to cover elective abortions as “basic health care” in health insurance plans, regardless of religious or moral objections. The Trump administration threatened to withhold federal funding to California for infringing on religious freedom, but California under then-state Attorney General Xavier Becerra (now U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services) persisted, and the legal battle continued for years.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has been representing four churches (Skyline Wesleyan Church in the San Diego area, Foothill Church in Glendora, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino, and Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch) in two separate lawsuits on the subject. They contend that the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) imposed the new mandate without passing new laws or regulations or so much as public input.

One suit received a successful verdict against the state last August, and on Friday, ADF announced that it has now secured judgements in both of the lawsuits affirming that all four churches have a First Amendment right to abstain from supporting abortion, which California violated.

Accordingly, California officials have agreed to pay the religious institutions a combined $1.4 million toward the legal expenses they incurred defending their constitutional rights.

“The government can’t force a church or any other religious employer to violate their faith and conscience by participating in funding abortion,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus. “For years, California officials, in collaboration with Planned Parenthood, have unconstitutionally targeted faith-based organizations. This is a significant victory for the churches we represent, the conscience rights of their members, and other religious organizations that shouldn’t be ordered by the government to violate some of their deepest faith convictions.”

Fourteen states currently ban all or most abortions, thanks to the reversal of Roe putting abortion back in the hands of the democratic process, but forced financial assistance for abortion in states where it remains legal, whether by taxpayers or private entities, is one of the abortion lobby’s many tactics to preserve abortion “access” in this new landscape — without regard for the wishes or freedoms of others, as California’s actions indicate.

Other strategies include easing distribution of abortion pills, legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel, attempting to enshrine “rights” to the practice in state constitutions, attempting to construct new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states, and making liberal states sanctuaries for those who want to evade or violate the laws of more pro-life neighbors.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws. Democrats currently lack the votes to do so, but whether they get those votes is sure to be one of the major issues of the 2024 elections.