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January 27, 2020

HHS Issues Warning to California: Stop Forcing Insurers to Cover Abortion or Lose Funding

Alex M. Azar II
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a press release on Friday, Jan 24 stating that California could lose HHS funding if it continues to require insurers in the state to cover elective abortions.

"OCR is issuing a Notice of Violation to the state of California, formally notifying California that it cannot impose universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance plans and issuers in violation of federal conscience laws," the press release reads. "California has deprived over 28,000 people of plans that did not cover elective abortion, but now must cover abortion due to California’s mandate."

The OCR found that California's requirement violated the conscience protections of the Weldon Amendment. Under the amendment, federal funds can be withheld from governmental institutions that discriminate against those who do not wish to support abortion.

"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."

The press release further stated that the OCR was reprimanded in January of 2019 for requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to refer patients to abortions under the threat of fines.

“No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions,” said Roger Severino, Director of OCR. “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,” Severino concluded.

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