California regulation requiring insurance plans to fund abortion prompts strengthening of Weldon Amendment.
The announcement that the Trump Administration is taking steps to enforce the Weldon Amendment, a federal law that prohibits discrimination by states against health insurance plans that do not cover abortion, is “extraordinarily good news for the right to life, conscientious objection, religious freedom and the rule of law,” U.S. Catholic leaders said.
“For nearly six years, employers in California—including churches—have been forced to fund and facilitate abortions in their health insurance plans in direct violation of a federal conscience protection law known as the Weldon amendment,” said a statement from Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty.
“This coercive California policy is abhorrent, unjust and illegal. We strongly commend the Trump Administration for taking this critical action to enforce federal law and correct this supreme injustice to the people and employers of California.”
The bishops said that violations of federal conscience laws are on the rise. “We hope that this enforcement action, and subsequent actions by the Administration, will stop further unlawful discrimination against people who reject abortion as a violation of the most basic human and civil rights,” their statement said.
The administration announced the move on January 24, on the occasion of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
In 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care began forcing all employers to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health plans in direct violation of the Weldon amendment. There is no exception for churches.
In a statement, the California Catholic Conference said that violations of the Weldon Amendment mandates that the Federal government withhold all funding from a state, “something that most observers believe is impractical and why the Amendment has never been enforced.”