Congressional conservatives are taking a stand against the Obama administration’s abortion agenda by blocking one of the president’s Health and Human Services nominees. Until the White House investigates whether California is unlawfully forcing health insurers to cover abortions, Mary Wakefield, the deputy HHS secretary candidate, will have to wait.
The Senate Finance Committee, led by Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), is placing an obstacle before Wakefield – not out of personal animosity, but concern for the right to life and religious freedom in California. A couple of years ago, the state’s department of health mandated that insurers provide coverage for abortions as a “medically necessary procedure.” As a result, some churches and Catholic institutions were forced to violate their religious beliefs. Pro-life groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and Life Legal Defense Foundation condemned the directive as discriminatory and filed lawsuits against the state’s department of managed health care, but the mandate remains.
The rule, Hatch and others argue, violates the Weldon Amendment, which prohibits any kind of discrimination against insurers who opt out of abortion coverage. The HHS Office for Civil Rights began an investigation into the matter in December 2014, but as of today it seems little progress has been made.
While Wakefield may not have been privy to California’s biased law, she will be used as a symbol of resistance until the administration proves it is seriously looking into this intolerant decree.