Across the country, legislators and pro-life activists are utilizing the power of social media to try and get California’s Governor Gavin Newsom to comply with federal law and remove a requirement that forces private health care plans to cover abortion. This is an important action and a push back against the state’s aggressive pro-abortion stance.
There is no love lost between the Trump Administration and the radically progressive State of California. From immigration to the environment, there are few things that the most populous state agrees on with President Donald Trump. The biggest point of contention right now is the state’s abortion mandate, which requires all insurance providers, including private insurers, to cover abortions. In the process, it ignores the objections of people who have religious and moral objections.
In response to this issue, the Office for Civil Rights, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced in January that it was taking action against the state.
“Regardless of what one thinks about the legality of abortion, the American people have spoken with one voice to say that people should not be forced to participate, pay for or cover other people’s abortions,” Roger Severino, the Director of the Office for Civil Rights, said to reporters during a conference call.
The Administration has a strong support in the form of the Weldon amendment, a federal measure that requires that “none of the funds made available in this Act may be made available to a Federal agency or program, or to a state or local government, if such agency, program, or government subjects any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer abortions.” It also defines “health care entity” as “an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.”
Essentially, the amendment protects freedom of conscience for the individual and organizations when it comes to abortion coverage.
“The Weldon amendment is very clear,” Severino said. “If states receive federal funds from HHS and other agencies, they cannot discriminate against health plans that decline to cover or pay for abortions—period, full stop.”
Other states also require private insurance plans to cover abortion, but California is the first state that has received notification that it is in violation of federal policies. This is likely because California is the largest state in the union in terms of population, and it also puts other states on notice that they may be subject to the same investigative measures and punishments, including the potential loss of some federal funding.
This action was in response to complaints made by two organizations, Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, a Catholic order of religious sisters, and Skyline Wesleyan Church, a nonprofit Christian church. As religious organizations, both officially objected, although there are many others who would as well, to the state’s requirement that they provide abortion coverage to their employees.
“No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions,” Severino said. “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.”
Hopefully, this social media campaign and the official pressure will help lawmakers in California change their minds. Abortions are elective procedures, and neither the state nor federal government should force insurance providers to cover this voluntary procedure.