California will receive $200 million less in Medicaid funding each quarter over its requirement that all health insurance plans cover abortions as basic health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
The state's mandate, which took effect in 2014, makes no exceptions for churches or other groups that object on religious grounds. Several churches have taken legal action against the state in protest.
"California's mandate violates a federal antidiscrimination [sic] law known as the Weldon Amendment, which protects entities from being forced to provide, pay for, or provide coverage for abortions," a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services reads, in part. "California has refused to come into compliance with the Weldon Amendment, despite several demands from OCR [the department's Office for Civil Rights] as well as offers from OCR to assist it in coming into compliance."
The department had warned California that such a move would be coming if it refused to comply with the Weldon Amendment.
"If California wants to provide abortion services, it can do so," said OCR leader Roger Severino earlier this year. "What the state is not free to do is force people to pay for other people's abortions."
California can avoid the quarterly cut if it abides by the Weldon Amendment.
The office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Associated Press it will fight against the HHS move, which it characterized as "extreme presidential overreach."
🔦 Joe Biden, whom the Electoral College has determined is president elect, could reverse the HHS funding decision.