The Trump administration on Friday threatened California with a potential loss of federal health care funds over the state's requirement that insurance plans cover abortions.
The announcement, timed to coincide with the anti-abortion March for Life in the nation's capital, came hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to address the marchers in person, becoming the first president to do so. Religious conservatives are a core element of Trump's political coalition, and his administration has gone out of its way to deliver on their demands.
The federal Health and Human Services Department said it is issuing a "notice of violation," giving California 30 days to comply with a federal law known as the Weldon amendment. That law bars federal health care funding from being provided to states or entities that practice "discrimination" against a health care organization on the basis that it "does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions."
The head of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, Roger Severino, said California is violating that restriction by requiring insurance plans to cover abortions. According to Severino, 28,000 Californians had abortion-free plans prior to the state's requirements and have now lost that option. The federal government has received complaints from an order of nuns - the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit - as well as a church.
With files from the Associated Press
We invited both the Department of Health and Human Services as well as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to join us for our discussion. As of the airing of this segment, we have not received a response to our inquiry.
12:00 p.m. UPDATE: We received a response from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directing us to their press release here.
Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center