On Friday the Trump Administration threatened California that it would halt certain federal health funds because of California’s requirement that abortions need to be covered under insurance.
A new federal stance on insured abortion laws
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that California’s insurance requirement for abortion, which has been law in the state since 2014, goes against federal law. Specifically, the HHS says that it’s violating a law the prohibits discriminating against health insurance companies that don’t cover abortions if federal dollars are involved
“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,” stated Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.
The HHS also said that the five other states with similar insured abortion laws, Oregon, Washington, Maine, New York, and Illinois, may also be in violation and could face the loss of some federal funding.
Trump at the March for Life Rally
The violation announcement coincided with President Trump’s visit to the National March for Life Rally. The first president to ever attend the rally in-person, President Trump made his stance known.
“Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,” said President Trump in Washington. “We are fighting for those who have no voice and we will win because we know how to win.”
California lawmakers refuse to back down
While President Trump, numerous religious groups, and anti-abortion supporters were pleased with the action of the HHS, abortion supporters, women’s health supporters, and many Californian officials slammed the decision, vowing to fight back.
“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,” stated Governor Gavin Newsom only hours after the decision on Friday.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also denounced the decision on social media.
“The President & VP are once again attacking women’s health in order to grandstand at today’s anti-choice rally,” tweeted Attorney General Becerra. “Make no mistake, this action against CA is just one more attempt to chip away at women’s rights & access to abortion.”
A potential legal fight
The decision by the HHS is now likely to be fought legally.
“Both sides have strong legal cases,” expressed San Diego-based lawyer Andrea Fielder. “The HHS and the state both have conflicting laws, but let’s bring this down to the issue at-hand. For those supporting abortion, states have the right to regulate the insurance in their state. Abortion is a procedure and is health care and therefore should be covered. There’s a whole host of health reasons they’ve put together in the past that have stuck in court, so the law is on their side here for that.”
On the flip side, anti-abortion proponents claim it’s a violation of their religion to pay an insurance companies fees only for that money to be used for procedures that violate their beliefs – in this case, abortion. And some courts have seen similar victories under religious grounds like that.
“California won’t go down quietly, so we’re going to be hearing a lot about this in the next month.”
California currently has 30 days to comply with the HHS or they will lose some federal health care funding. California will most likely stop this by the deadline and challenge the HHS ruling.
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