The following comes from a May 4 Red State article by Casey Mattox:
Last week in Sacramento, California, legislators and abortion advocates finally explained how they square the state’s new abortion insurance mandate with a federal law prohibiting it. They believe they can count on the Obama administration not to enforce the law.
On Aug. 22, 2014, the California Department of Managed Health Care issued an order requiring every health insurance plan licensed in California to cover all legal abortions. The consequence of this order was that even churches in California were immediately forced to cover elective abortions in their insurance plans for their employees.
California’s discrimination against health insurance plans that don’t include coverage for elective abortions has been prohibited by the federal Weldon Amendment for a decade. The law prohibits states receiving funds under the Labor, Health & Human Services and Education Appropriations Act from discriminating against health insurance plans that don’t cover abortion. The Department of Managed Health Care has banned such plans from California. That certainly seems like “discrimination.”
With California receiving tens of billions of federal taxpayer dollars subject to the Weldon Amendment, one would expect Department of Managed Health Care to offer some novel explanation of how this state abortion mandate doesn’t really violate the law; yet, the the department ignored the law entirely in its order. In response to pleas from pro-life Californians whose health insurance plans were forced to cover elective abortions because of this mandate, they would only say they “considered” the Weldon Amendment when it reinterpreted a 40-year old state law (and the state constitution) to deem elective abortions a “basic health service” that must be covered by every insurance plan in the state, even for churches.
California Assembly member Shannon Grove introduced a bill that would simply have restored the status quo and brought California back into compliance with its obligations under federal law. Assembly Bill 1254 would have allowed churches and other pro-life employers in California to again contract for health insurance plans that did not require them to pay for abortion coverage. As California already recognizes, as it must, the right of some religious employers to be free from paying for contraceptive coverage, this should be a no brainer—especially since federal law prohibits discrimination against health plans that exclude abortion coverage. Nonetheless, the Assembly’s Committee on Health rejected the bill.
I testified at an April 28 hearing in support of the bill along with Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, one of the churches forced to cover abortions by this illegal mandate. I hoped to finally hear some explanation of how the California law did not violate the Weldon Amendment. Instead, the Democratic majority’s analysis of the bill didn’t even mention the federal law with which the bill was meant to bring California into compliance. A representative from Planned Parenthood of California and a constitutional law professor from Santa Clara University testified in opposition to AB1254, but neither offered any explanation as to how the California mandate they supported did not violate federal law.
But when I pointed out that neither the committee nor those testifying in favor of the abortion mandate were attempting to square it with the Weldon Amendment, Beth Parker, a Planned Parenthood attorney, had no real answer except to rely on the Obama administration to ignore this blatant violation of federal law: “Only the federal government can enforce the Weldon Amendment, and it has never been enforced by either Republican or Democratic Administrations.” (25:15-25:23).