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Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services argued the insurance requirement violates a federal law that prohibits governments from discriminating against health care entities that don’t provide, cover or pay for abortions if taxpayer dollars are involved. HHS is giving the state 30 days to comply or risk losing the funds it receives to run its health-care programs.
“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. Full stop,” Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS, told reporters on Friday.
In 2014, California passed a law requiring all health insurance policies, including those offered by employers, to include abortion coverage.
Five other states — Maine, New York, Illinois, Oregon and Washington — have similar laws that require private insurance plans regulated by the state to cover abortion and could face a similar complaint.
“The President & VP are once again attacking women’s health in order to grandstand at today’s anti-choice rally,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote on Twitter. “Make no mistake, this action against CA is just one more attempt to chip away at women’s rights & access to abortion.”
Becerra, a Democrat, vowed that he will “fight by any means necessary” against the administration.
The state law was previously challenged by the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit Inc. and Skyline Wesleyan Church. Although the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit sued the state in 2019, the California Court of Appeals upheld the state’s abortion coverage requirement, and the California Supreme Court declined to unpublish that decision.
The Trump administration’s announcement comes the same day as the planned March for Life, the annual anti-abortion demonstration in Washington, D.C. Trump will become the first sitting president to speak in person at the protest as he seeks to shore up support from his conservative base ahead of the November election.