Politics

Trump to take action against California for requiring insurers to provide abortion coverage, WSJ says

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump's administration is planning to take action against California over the state's requirement that insurance companies cover abortions, according to a new report.
  • The Trump administration will argue that California's rule goes against a federal law that protects health care providers from discrimination by government groups receiving federal money, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The announcement of the action is planned for Friday, the same day that Trump is scheduled to appear at the anti-abortion March for Life rally.
President Donald Trump
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

President Donald Trump's administration is planning to take action against California over the state's requirement that insurance companies cover abortions, according to a new report.

The Trump administration will argue that California's rule goes against a federal law that protects health-care providers that don't provide abortion or abortion coverage from discrimination by government groups receiving money from the Department of Health and Human Services, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the plans.

HHS and the Office for Civil Rights issued a notice of violation on Friday, threatening to pull federal health funds from California if the state does not comply with federal law. A spokesperson did not return a request for comment.

The White House declined to comment on the record.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra vowed in a tweet "to protect our families' access to healthcare, including women's constitutional right to abortion."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement to CNBC slammed the move, saying that "the Trump Administration would rather rile up its base to score cheap political points and risk access to care for millions than do what's right."

Newsom also echoed Becerra's comments, saying abortion will be legal in the state.

"California will continue to protect a woman's right to choose, and we won't back down from defending reproductive freedom for everybody -- full stop," he said.

The announcement of the action is planned for Friday, the same day that Trump is scheduled to appear at the anti-abortion March for Life rally. The president is looking to firm up his support among conservative Christians and abortion opponents as he prepares for a likely bruising reelection campaign.

He is the first sitting president in the event's nearly five-decade history to attend the Washington protest against the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Trump announced his plans to attend the march via a tweet Wednesday, the 47th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, as House Democrats began laying out their case in the Senate impeachment trial for removing him from office.

"See you on Friday...Big Crowd!" the president said, replying to a tweet from the March for Life account promoting the event.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement on Thursday called the White House the "most pro-life administration in this country's history."

"We are proud to be 'the Department of Life' and will continue protecting life and lives while upholding the fundamental freedoms and inherent dignity of all Americans," Azar said in the statement.

At the rally, Trump welcomed the "tens of thousands of high school and college students who took long bus rides to be here in our nation's capital" and touted his reproductive rights- and abortion-restricting record in the White House.

"All of us here today understand the eternal truth," he said. "Every child is a precious and a sacred gift from god. Together we must treasure and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life."

"Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House," Trump continued.

Trump once identified as "very pro-choice," saying in a 1999 interview on the NBC program "Meet the Press" that "I hate the concept of abortion. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But I still believe in choice."

But during his 2016 campaign, the president sought out anti-abortion voters, appearing at rallies and major fundraisers and vowing to defund global family planning efforts at the United Nations.

His renewed vocal support for anti-abortion groups comes in the middle of a heated presidential campaign and weeks before the Supreme Court is set to take up its first major abortion-related case with both of his appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, on the bench.

The high court will review a 2014 Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortions are provided. Opponents said it would effectively leave just one abortion provider for a state with about 4.6 million residents.

On Jan. 2, 207 lawmakers, including two Democrats, filed an amicus brief in the case, urging the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.

— CNBC's Lauren Hirsch contributed to this article.