For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 16, 2020
California — Today, the Trump administration announced an inhumane effort to try to strip California of at least $200 million in federal healthcare funds during a global pandemic. This politically motivated announcement in the final days of the Trump administration is intended to punish the state for ensuring that Californians have access to comprehensive health insurance that includes coverage of abortion care.
This cruel announcement comes just one day after California surpassed its previous highest number of deaths due to COVID-19 in a single day as cases continue to skyrocket. More than 21,000 Californians have lost their lives due to COVID-19, and the state reported more than 53,000 new cases today alone. In the midst of a public health crisis, we should be strengthening and expanding access to healthcare, not rolling back access or punishing states that work to provide comprehensive coverage to their residents.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue released the following statement in response:
“The Trump administration’s threat to strip California of hundreds of millions of dollars in critical healthcare funding during a global pandemic is appalling. There is no limit to the destruction Trump is willing to leave in his wake as he is forced from office. He’s clearly attempting to play to a small group of supporters in this attack on healthcare and access to abortion. This pays no attention to the people he is punishing, especially BIPOC communities most hurt by these political games.”
NARAL Pro-Choice California Director Shannon Olivieri Hovis said:
“California is in the midst of a raging pandemic and the soon-to-be-former president of the United States is using his final days in office to attack funding for healthcare. We are proud that our state is committed to ensuring that Californians have comprehensive coverage for all of their healthcare needs — including abortion care.”
The Trump-Pence administration has spent the last four years systematically attacking the right to abortion and undermining reproductive freedom. Now, in the final days of the administration, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services, led by anti-reproductive freedom Secretary Alex Azar, is arguing that California’s law guaranteeing insurance coverage of abortion care violates the Weldon Amendment, an annual budget rider designed to interfere with policies that expand access to and coverage of abortion care. Ironically, the amendment refers to such policies as “discrimination.” Notably, in 2016, HHS’ Office for Civil Rights rejected complaints about California’s abortion coverage requirement and determined that the requirement does not violate federal law. These kinds of attacks on insurance coverage for the full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, especially hurt communities of color, trans and non-binary people, and those with lower incomes.
The Trump administration also announced today that the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the University of Vermont Medical Center in an attack on the hospital’s policies that ensure patient access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion. This outrageous attack on a hospital, in the midst of a global pandemic, is further evidence that the Trump administration will stop at nothing to prioritize attacks on abortion access in its final days.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters have fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom—including access to abortion, contraception, and paid family leave—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 7 in 10 Americans who believe every person should have the freedom to make the best decision for themselves about if, when, and how to raise a family.