Trump administration threatens funds to California over its requirement that health plans cover abortion

The announcement came as President Trump was expected to address thousands of antiabortion demonstrators gathered in the capital for the March for Life rally, an annual gathering to mark the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. The warning is the latest in a series of antiabortion regulations and actions the agency has taken to win support from Trump’s evangelical Christian base, which helped elect him in 2016 and is seen as key to his 2020 reelection prospects.

The attorney general’s office for California did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Six states require private health plans to cover abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights think tank, while 11 states have laws that restrict abortion coverage in private health plans, including those offered on the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance market.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in most cases, and about 7 in 10 said that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. Seventy-nine percent believe the decision is best made by women themselves in consultation with their doctors, rather than by lawmakers.

Majorities of Americans also support laws that require women to wait 24 hours between meeting a health-care provider and getting an abortion and laws requiring doctors to show and describe ultrasound images to them.

“While Trump stands with the small number of Americans who want politicians to interfere with their personal health decisions, we’ll be standing with the nearly 80 percent of Americans who support abortion access,” Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund said in a statement. “We will never stop fighting for all of the people in this country who need access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion.”

One of HHS’ biggest achievements from the perspective of social conservatives was eliminating Planned Parenthood from the federal family planning program, a long-sought goal of Vice President Mike Pence. A new family planning program rule, which was upheld by a federal court, made clinics ineligible for federal funding if they provided abortions or make referrals for them. Planned Parenthood was the largest recipient of those funds and pulled out of the program.

Earlier this month, nine federal agencies, including HHS, also advanced rules that would strengthen protections for students who want to pray or worship in public schools and proposed changes to make it easier for religious groups that provide social services to access federal funds.

But the administration has seen some of its social conservative agenda stopped in the courts. A federal judge voided HHS’ “conscience rule” that would have allowed health-care providers to opt out of performing certain procedures, such as abortions or sterilizations, based on religious or moral objections. The administration is appealing that decision.

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