California abortion mandate violates federal law, jeopardizes funding

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) put California on notice Jan. 24 for the state’s universal abortion coverage mandates.

The HHS notice of violation said California’s mandate that all insurance companies cover abortions is illegal because it violates a federal law that shields health care providers from discrimination if they choose not to provide coverage for abortions.

Two religious groups challenged the rule on the grounds their beliefs preclude them from helping to pay for insurance coverage for elective abortions. An OCR investigation determined the rule violates the Weldon Amendment, a 2009 federal provision that prohibits discrimination to an institution or individual health care entity on the basis of refusing to provide, pay for, provide coverage of or refer for abortions. The notice says California must come into compliance with federal law or risk federal funds. (TAB)