The Trump administration on Friday threatened to withhold certain federal funds from California due to a state law requiring private insurers to cover abortion costs.
The Department of Health and Human Services said in its announcement that California’s requirement violates a federal ban on discriminating against health providers that refuse to perform or cover abortion procedures. HHS gave the state 30 days to comply with its directive or the agency may withhold funding to California’s health system.
“Once again, President Trump’s administration is delivering on his promise to protect human life and all Americans’ freedom of conscience,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar commented in the announcement.
“No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights. “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.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, criticized the decision in comments reported by Politico.
“The Trump administration would rather rile up its base to score cheap political points and risk access to care for millions than do what’s right,” the Governor said. “California will continue to protect a woman’s right to choose, and we won’t back down from defending reproductive freedom for everybody—full stop.”
The announcement coincides with the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., where President Trump will become the first president in U.S. history to attend.
Trump has extended outreach to Christian voters in recent weeks ahead of his 2020 reelection campaign. The Susan B. Anthony List, one of the nation’s largest pro-life groups, recently announced a $52 million contribution to the Trump campaign and other Republican election efforts.