The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) has determined that the State of California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) is violating the Weldon Amendment by forcing health insurance providers to include abortion coverage in every plan within DMHC’s jurisdiction.
The Weldon Amendment prohibits federal funds from going to states that discriminate against any health care entity which does not pay for, or provide, coverage for abortions.
The amendment has been hotly debated by the Democratic candidates for president, with former Vice President Joseph Biden voting for its passage in 2009. After many conflicting statements, Biden has now come out against the amendment along with every Democratic candidate.
In a press release Friday Congressman Kevin McCarthy supported the HHS saying,
“California’s abortion mandate not only devalues life, but cruelly compels many Californians to support abortion against their will. In order to respect citizens’ rights and not jeopardize a vital stream of critical federal funds that assist Californians, I urge Governor Newsom to reconsider his support for this unlawful policy. Today’s 47th Annual March for Life serves as an important reminder that every life is valuable. I am grateful to President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar for standing up for the voiceless and defending pro-life Californians against Sacramento’s unlawful actions.”
McCarthy was referring to Trump’s addressing the March for Life that took place in Washington DC on Friday. Trump addressed the rally stating, “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House. Young people are the heart of the March for Life – and it is your generation that is making America a pro-family, pro-life nation!”
The HHS’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) said that the California’s mandate disregards “federal conscience laws” and violate a 2014 requirement that bans discrimination against health care entities that refuse to provide abortion services.
Conversely the same civil rights office determined in 2016 that California’s law did not violate the federal requirement.
OCR director Roger Severino said in a statement, “No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions. We are putting California on notice that it must stop forcing people of good will to subsidize the taking of human life, not only because it’s the moral thing to do, but because it’s the law.”
California will have to end its health plan requirement, the agency said, or face “limitations on continued receipt of certain HHS funds.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement saying, “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.”
According to Severino California has 30 days to repeal its abortion mandate.