The government of California apparently prides itself on being pro-abortion.
They filed a brief opposing even the modest regulation of abortion at issue in the current Supreme Court case of June Medical Services v. Gee (we filed a brief of our own exposing the dangers of abortion). They tried (unsuccessfully) to force pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion in the Supreme Court case of NIFLA v. Becerra, labelling their coercion of speech “forward thinking” (we won our own case at the Supreme Court defending pro-life pregnancy centers from this unconstitutional law). They now require all state colleges to provide abortion pills. And as if that isn’t enough already, they dictated that every insurance policy in the state must cover abortion, whether the insurance company or its customers wanted that or not.
Fortunately, there are federal laws protecting freedom of conscience. And while the Obama Administration looked the other way when faced with complaints about California’s abortion insurance mandate, elections have consequences. The new Trump Administration revisited the issue and, in a signal victory for freedom of conscience, announced that California’s abortion insurance mandate violates federal law – which it absolutely does.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rightfully took action sending a Notice of Violation that not only is California in blatant violation of federal law but faces severe penalties if it does not immediately come into compliance with federal conscience protections – including the loss of federal funding.
As HHS explains:
Pursuant to 45 CFR Part 88 (effective March 2011), OCR has completed the investigation of the complaints and determined that California violated the Weldon Amendment by mandating that California health care plan issuers cover elective abortion in each plan product, and continues to violate federal law by continuing to require objecting health care entities protected by the Weldon Amendment to cover elective abortion. With this Notice, OCR requests that California inform 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.
If, after 30 days, OCR does not receive sufficient assurance that California will come into compliance with federal law, OCR will forward the Notice of Violation and the evidence supporting OCR’s findings in this matter to the HHS funding components from which California receives funding for appropriate action under applicable grants and contracts regulations. This action may ultimately result in limitations on continued receipt of certain HHS funds.
This is not the first time OCR has found California to be in violation of federal conscience statutes. In January 2019, OCR found that California violated the Weldon and Coats-Snowe Amendments when it subjected pregnancy resource centers in the state to potential fines and discrimination for refusing to post notices referring for free or low-cost abortions.
It is bad enough that California has virtually no limits on the slaying of babies in the womb. For example, the abortionist does not even have to be a physician! Forcing everyone with insurance to help pay for the killing added insult to atrocity. Thankfully, the Trump Administration values conscience – and obedience to federal conscience laws – more than California does.
Here at the ACLJ, we’ve been fighting for conscience rights for many years. E.g., filing lawsuits, submitting formal public comments, and battling across the country. We’re delighted to have the federal government fighting on the same side.
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