After warning California earlier this year that it could lose federal funding over a 2014 regulation mandating that employers and private insurance plans pay for abortions, the Trump administration is making good on its threat, saying on Dec. 16 that it was cutting $200 million in federal healthcare funding to the state.
According to KABC-TV in Los Angeles, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the funding will be withheld from Medicaid in the new fiscal quarter starting in January. “If the state does not come into compliance,” the department will cut an additional $200 million per fiscal quarter, the department warned.
The Department of Health and Human Services has chraged that the state is in violation of a federal antidiscrimination law, the Weldon Amendment, that shields insurers from being compelled to cover abortions, the department said in a statement.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in the statement that California had violated federal conscience laws and to correct the situation.
“So we are now taking action to hold them to account,” he said.
The Office of Civil Rights, a division of the Health and Human Services department, at first investigated California based on complaints filed by a Catholic order of religious sisters and a nonprofit Christian church that objected to “paying for elective abortion insurance for themselves and their colleagues,” the statement said.
“Whatever one thinks of the legality of abortion, no one should be punished for declining to pay for or assist in the taking of human life,” Roger Severino, director of the Office of Civil Rights, said in the statement.