February 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – California officials will not heed the Trump administration’s warnings that the state is in defiance of federal religious liberty protections, announcing Friday that they intend to continue a policy of forcing private employers to subsidize abortion, even churches.
Back in 2014, California enacted rules forcing all employers to fund health insurance plans that coverd elective abortions on the theory they are a “medically necessary” part of “basic health care,” regardless of religious- or conscience-based objections. The state has been embroiled in lawsuits over the policy ever since.
Last month, the Trump Health and Human Services (HHS) Department’s Office for Civil Rights issued a Notice of Violation to the state, declaring that California was in violation of the federal Weldon amendment, which forbids federal assistance to states or localities that discriminatee against “any institutional or individual healthcare entity” on the basis “that the healthcare entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”
“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,” OCR warned. “This action may ultimately result in limitations on continued receipt of certain HHS funds.”
Yet California has no intention of changing its policies, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“California will take no ‘corrective action,’” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote in a letter to HHS, which speaks for Gov. Gavin Newsom as well. The letter noted that the Obama administration, which was notoriously pro-abortion, had previously been satisified that waivers offered by the state to religious objectors satisfied the requirements of the Weldon amendment, and “the facts … have not changed” since then.
But religious entities in the state are still being pressured to fund abortion against their will, such as Skyline Wesleyan Church, whom Alliance Defending Freedom is representing in court on this issue.
“The state’s actions are cold and cruel,” responded House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who also represents California’s 23rd congressional district. “I urge California Gov. Gavin Newsom to comply with the Trump administration’s notice and stop forcing pro-life Americans to choose between personal beliefs and health care.”