California to Challenge "Back-Door" Anti-Abortion Provision
Attorney General Bill Lockyer of California announced yesterday that he will go to court to challenge the constitutionality of an anti-abortion provision signed into law this week by President Bush as part of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for 2005. The amendment, misleadingly titled the “Abortion Non-Discrimination Act” and also known as the Federal Refusal Clause, will not only allow health care professionals, hospitals, and health insurance providers to refuse to comply with state laws protecting a woman’s right to an abortion while still accepting state funding, but it will also disallow states from enforcing these laws due to the threat of loss of a wide range of federal funding, even those unrelated to reproductive health, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“This is an unacceptable attack on women’s rights and state sovereignty, and a back-door attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Lockyer said. “With this provision, what the federal government says to California is this: If you want back your own taxpayer dollars for important programs that serve all the people of your state, you first have to refuse to protect the constitutional rights of the women who live in your state. That is wrong, it is unlawful, and I will fight to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
The anti-abortion provision will affect several California state laws, including the state constitutional right to privacy which requires California to remain neutral on the subject of abortion; a law requiring public hospitals and clinics to offer abortions if they also provide prenatal care; Medi-Cal regulations that provide payment for poor women’s abortion services; a law that allows California to withhold state funding from institutions that discourage women from having an abortion; and a law requiring school health clinics to offer abortion counseling and referrals, among others, reports San Francisco Chronicle.
Lockyer’s announcement was endorsed by California Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Lockyer is thought to be a likely Democratic candidate for California’s 2006 gubernatorial race against current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, reports Reuters.