Trump – California Stop Abortion Mandate Or Lose Funding
Once more, California is at it, they have put into law that all health insurance providers have to provide abortion services, or they will violate state law. This is a direct violation of the Weldon Amendment, which guarantees protection for providers and insurance who will not provide abortion services for conscious or religious reasons.
The Health and Human Services Department warned California on Friday that it would cut off some of its federal funding if it continued mandating universal abortion coverage, arguing that doing so violated the conscience rights of all Americans.
The news of this came on the same day as the March for Life rally, where President Trump made history by becoming the first president to attend the annual gathering of pro-life activists.
“Once again, President Trump’s administration is delivering on his promise to protect human life and all Americans’ freedom of conscience,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said in a press release.
HHS argued that the state violated the Weldon Amendment, which blocks federal funding for states that discriminate against providers who refuse to cover abortion. This came into being after a Catholic order of religious sisters, and a nonprofit Christian church complained about the alleged violations.
Roger Severino, who leads the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), denounced California for “forcing people of goodwill to subsidize the taking of human life.” According to HHS, more than 28,000 people in the state were unable to access plans that didn’t cover elective abortions.
HHS argued that the state violated the Weldon Amendment, which blocks federal funding for states that discriminate against providers who refuse to cover abortion. The issue arose after a Catholic order of religious sisters and a nonprofit Christian church complained about the alleged violations.
“With this Notice,” the department said, “OCR requests that California informs OCR, within thirty days, whether California will continue to enforce its requirement that all health plans cover elective abortions, or whether it will agree to take corrective action and remedy the effect of its discriminatory conduct.”
“No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions,” Severino said.
“No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions,” Severino said. The administration previously came under fire after OCR expanded protections for doctors who held “conscience” objections to performing abortions and other procedures.
California Legislators have threatened they will fight this infringement on their state rights, but are looking at a loosing battle due to federal supersedes state law in such cases.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) fired back on Friday.
“California will continue to protect a woman’s right to choose, and we won’t back down from defending reproductive freedom for everybody — full stop,” Newsom said.
He also noted that the Obama administration determined the state law did not conflict with what’s known as the Weldon amendment, which HHS now says California has violated.
“Despite a federal opinion four years ago confirming California’s compliance with the Weldon Amendment, the Trump Administration would rather rile up its base to score cheap political points and risk access to care for millions than do what’s right,” Newsom said.
The Trump administration is threatening to withhold federal funds from California over the state’s requirement that all insurance plans cover abortion.
Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) argued the insurance requirement forces people to pay for other people’s abortions and is a violation of federal law.
The state will have 30 days to come into compliance with federal law or risking losing some of the health funding it gets from HHS.
“If states receive federal funds from HHS or other agencies, they can’t discriminate against health plans that decline to cover or pay for abortions. Period. Full stop,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS.
The decision by HHS also serves as a warning to the five other states that mandate abortion coverage in insurance plans, including Maine, Illinois and New York.
California passed a state law in 2014 requiring all insurance plans, including those offered by employers, to cover abortion. Religious organizations argued the requirement is illegal because it violates their religious rights.
The state law was challenged by the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit but the lawsuit was dismissed in court. The missionary then filed a complaint with HHS, which sided with the Catholic convent.
“Why can’t they just be left alone?” Severino said of the nuns. “Why must it be all or nothing? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact, it’s against the law.”
He noted that the status quo for many years was that insurers and employers could choose to not cover abortion in their plans. That is still the case in many states.
“If people want to get abortion coverage they can get it, but do not force other people to do it against their conscience,” Severino said.
He didn’t specify what funding California is at risk of losing, but noted that there are many options because the state is a “big consumer of HHS funds.”
“Our goal is compliance,” Severino said. “We want to see California and any other state that seeks to follow in California’s footsteps come into compliance and obey the law.”
In other news:
The announcement from HHS came on the same day as the March for Life, the annual march against abortion in Washington, D.C.
President Trump became the first sitting president to speak at the march as he seeks to galvanize his conservative base ahead of the November election.
“This is an important day for people who respect the inherent dignity of life,” Severino said, referring to the march.
Anti-abortion groups applauded the decision from the Trump administration as “another important victory.”
“Abortion is not health care and no American should ever be forced to participate in the destruction of innocent human life,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List.
The Trump administration has placed a priority on protecting the “conscience rights” of health care providers and consumers.
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