President Donald Trump might–or might not–have some money coming his way via California. A top Democrat in the Golden State offered to pay the 45th president back for any abortions he might have incurred and sprung for there in the past.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins released an official statement Friday afternoon extending the eyebrow-raising offer:
If Donald Trump is dissatisfied with the abortion services California provides, we will happily reimburse him for any and all abortions he has paid for in California, immediately upon receipt of legal documents freeing the potential women involved from any non-disclosure agreements they may have been compelled to enter into.
The San Diego politician’s sarcastic message was in response to a recent notice issued by the Trump administration which alleges that California is unlawfully mandating the provision of abortion coverage on private insurance providers via the Obamacare exchange system.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told California officials on Friday that they “cannot impose universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance plans and issuers in violation of federal conscience laws.” The HHS filing goes on to claim: “California has deprived over 28,000 people of plans that did not cover elective abortion, but now must cover abortion due to California’s mandate.”
The Notice of Violation explains the source of the issue:
[The HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR)] investigation arose from two complaints alleging that California engaged in unlawful discrimination when California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) ordered, in August 2014, that all health plan issuers under its jurisdiction must offer coverage for elective abortion in every plan they offer. The two complainants are the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, a Catholic order of religious sisters, and Skyline Wesleyan Church, a non-profit Christian church—organizations whose religious beliefs preclude them, in good conscience, from helping to pay for insurance coverage for elective abortions.
California elected officials responded with concerted outrage.
“Trump is threatening to take away ALL OF OUR HEALTHCARE FUNDING. TENS OF BILLIONS of dollars. 10 MILLION PEOPLE who are: poor, sick, kids, seniors, families, will LOSE their healthcare,” Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted. “And yet you call yourself ‘pro-life’ @realDonaldTrump?? You sicken me.”
Attorney General Xavier Becerra also slammed the notice.
“Women’s health should never be dangled as bait for the sake of political grandstanding,” he said in a press release. “Today, Donald Trump is using the official levers of government to advance his political agenda. Sound familiar? In California, we will continue to protect our families’ access to healthcare, including women’s constitutional right to abortion. Nothing changes.”
“It is all too convenient that the Trump Administration is choosing this moment – as political pressure heats up and the impeachment trial is underway – to once again come after California for our lawful, steadfast protection of women and abortion rights,” Atkins added. “I stand with women in California in our defense of reproductive freedom for all, and we will continue our efforts to ensure access to reproductive health services.”
Law&Crime’s Elura Nanos previously touched upon the legal contours of the Trump administration’s attack on California:
Can the federal government do this? Can it legally discriminate against one state, and choose to selectively enforce federal law?
Yes and no. States themselves do not have equal protection rights. Those are reserved for individuals. Individuals absolutely have the right to protection from selective enforcement of laws either by the state or federal governments. However, even if an individual could articulate a sustainable case of individual discrimination based on state of residence, it would receive only the lowest form of Constitutional scrutiny. It is possible that at some later date, individual Californians who become disadvantaged as the result of HHS’s withholding federal healthcare funds could bring a successful claim against the federal government; at this point, however, such a claim is speculative at best. Nothing in the Constitution, however, specifically insists that the federal government treat all the states equally.
“No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions,” OCR director Roger Severino said in a statement. “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.”
[image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images]
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