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On final day of Trump administration, HHS started probe of Illinois abortion law

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* Fox News

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department opened an investigation into whether Illinois violated federal law by discriminating against insurers that excluded or limited coverage for abortions.

Under the Weldon Amendment, federally funded governments are prohibited from discriminating against those insurers. The Thomas More Society, a conservative legal nonprofit, announced Tuesday that HHS had notified them of the investigation in a letter sent just before President Biden’s inauguration.

Sent by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) deputy director Luis Perez, the letter read: “OCR is investigating whether the state of Illinois, through its Department of Insurance and Department of Central Management Services, is discriminating against health plan issuers and plans that would offer health coverage that limited or excluded abortion coverage but for the Reproductive Health Act.”

Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act requires private insurers to cover abortion. It’s unclear how the investigation will proceed under Biden’s leadership, but it resembled a similar investigation HHS undertook that ultimately resulted in threatening to revoke Medicaid funding for California.

* Thomas More Society press release…

“This Illinois law requires health insurance policies to cover elective chemical and surgical abortions,” explained Thomas More Society attorney Michael McHale. “It compels businesses and individuals to pay for even late term abortion coverage and offers no religious exemptions. This is a violation of the federal Weldon Amendment.”

The Weldon Amendment ensures that federal appropriations by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education may not be issued to any government that discriminates against a “health care entity,” including an insurance plan sponsor, on the basis that it does not provide health insurance coverage of abortion.

“This abortion-coverage mandate is a blatant violation of the religious and conscience rights of many who live or work in Illinois,” added McHale. “And it forces exactly what the Weldon Amendment prohibits. Under federal law, Illinois cannot compel those like Dr. Mantoan or the Thomas More Society who do not believe in paying for abortions to either pay for abortion coverage or drop our insurance. Doing so will require Illinois to forfeit federal funding for essential programs such as Medicaid.”

“We are pleased that the Office for Civil Rights has taken our complaint seriously,” declared McHale. “Federal law clearly prohibits this brazen attempt to encroach upon our conscience rights. We await federal intervention to halt this illegal mandate.”

* Annie Thompson at the Illinois attorney general’s office…

We were notified – on the final day of the Trump administration – of the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights’ intention to investigate complaints filed by the Thomas More Society. In the event that the new administration follows through on this 11th hour attempt to undermine access to reproductive care in Illinois, Attorney General Raoul is committed to defending Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act.

* Jordan Abudayyeh at the governor’s office…

This sham complaint is a last ditch effort by the Trump administration to deny women their rights. The Governor’s Office will work with the Attorney General to respond appropriately, and in the meantime we look forward to working with the Biden administration to ensure women’s rights and access to healthcare are protected.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

30 Comments
  1. - 33rd ward - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 10:47 am:

    How petty.


  2. - walker - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 10:50 am:

    Been needs work.


  3. - Life - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:00 am:

    Interesting that there is often a call to listen to science except when it comes to abortion. There is no question those are very young human beings. They are not lizards or horses. They are humans. It’s one place where science isn’t important. (And yes I wear a mask and believe in helping the climate).


  4. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:10 am:

    Apparently some people still think of human development not as development but as a micro fully formed baby human flying in on a cross like in Medieval paintings. It’s not that.


  5. - SAP - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:13 am:

    ==This sham complaint== I am glad to see the Governor’s Spokeswoman address this with such radical candor.


  6. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:14 am:

    =Interesting that there is often a call to listen to science…=

    Interesting how the echo chamber works for some.


  7. - 1st Ward - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:14 am:

    “It’s one place where science isn’t important.”

    Understanding the difference between X and Y chromosomes is another one that’s now “controversial” to talk about and the scientist community is apparently “wrong”.


  8. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:14 am:

    The “pro-life” crowd strikes again, threatening health care for millions of poor people because a bunch of men think they should have dominion over a woman’s body.


  9. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:28 am:

    =The “pro-life” crowd strikes again, threatening health care for millions of poor people because a bunch of men think they should have dominion over a woman’s body.

    Gallup poll- 41% of women are pro-life. As for “poor” , 49% of households with less than $40,000 income are pro-life.

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/244709/pro-choice-pro-life-2018-demographic-tables.aspx


  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:34 am:

    - Donnie Elgin -

    You forget 53% of women Pro-Choice… or no?


  11. - Lake Cook Mom - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:41 am:

    I am sick and tired of Republicans using reproductive rights as a piñata.

    Republicans show no concern for life when it’s not directly related to a woman’s uterus.


  12. - EssentialWorkingMom - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    ==Republicans show no concern for life when it’s not directly related to a woman’s uterus.==

    FULLY AGREE.

    Also agree that the whole pro-life v pro-choice thing isn’t a poor v rich issue. It’s about the right of a woman to have agency over her own body and to have access to the healthcare she needs. Any woman who supports a pro-life agenda likely hasn’t been faced with a situation where she was denied access to her healthcare needs because of law that states other people know what is best for her body.


  13. - All this - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    == Understanding the difference between X and Y chromosomes is another one that’s now “controversial” to talk about and the scientist community is apparently “wrong”.==
    Who is saying X and Y chromosomes aren’t different, dear?

    Your friends?

    Not only are X and Y different, they are found in many combinations, the classics XY and XX plus there’s XXX, XYY, X, XXY, XXXY, XXXX, XXYY and XXXXY to name a few.


  14. - Central Illinoisan - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 12:00 pm:

    What is this “science” that is just being ignored around abortion? As others have pointed out, the continued hypocrisy of the Republican party or pro-life religious people of crying out against abortion as harming life, then being staunchly against doing anything to support that life once it is actually born is just infuriating. Republicans or Christians are scrambling over themselves to ensure that any pregnant person must carry the baby to term but could care less about ensuring paid time off to care for the baby, funding for early childhood education or public education, or making healthcare for the child affordable.

    Anyone who has had to work at trying to conceive will know that the phrase “life begins at conception” is scientifically untrue. An egg can be fertilized, but pregnancy does not actually begin unless the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. You can have a “conceptualized” egg be shed with the uterine lining. Proper sex education is needed for all, not incorrect slogans.

    Implantation of the fertilized egg is not a guarantee that the embryo will mature into a fetus that can actually be born. Unfortunately, there are lethal conditions that are either genetic or occur de novo. The options for the parents of those wanted fetuses are gutwrenching, but they need to be available.


  15. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 12:05 pm:

    Life, there is a difference between saying that there are 2 beings involved and therefore determining that the woman (part A) is obliged to continue to succor and nourish the fetus (part B) risking her own health in the process. It is the whole ought from an is problem.

    here’s the question I have. If this was so almighty important, why wasn’t it opened on the first day of Trump’s presidency? Or the 100th day? Why the last day?


  16. - Abby Normal - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 12:11 pm:

    === Interesting that there is often a call to listen to science except when it comes to abortion.===

    Interesting that so many prolife people ignore the science when it comes to the best way stop abortion.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/12/AR2010031202287.html


  17. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 12:16 pm:

    It was such a priority for the Trump administration that they waited until the last day in office to get around to this. Quite revealing indeed.

    Also, there seems to be scientific consensus on the viability of a 12 week fetus, which seems to indicate that it is not developed enough to survive outside the uterus, much less be entitled to rights that supercede the mother’s.

    But here we go again.


  18. - Jocko - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 12:27 pm:

    ==There is no question those are very young human beings.==

    I didn’t know the Bible was the authoritative text on human physiology. /S


  19. - Jibba - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===who do not believe in paying for abortions to either pay for abortion coverage or drop our insurance.===

    What about vaccinations and blood transfusions? There are religions that consider these to be immoral. Do we want to live in a world where every zealot/organization can dictate what health care choices its poor employees must suffer without? Another great argument for single payer. And don’t get me started on whether corporations can have moralities…they ain’t people, my friend.


  20. - sinnissippi - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 1:01 pm:

    “An egg can be fertilized, but pregnancy does not actually begin unless the fertilized egg implants in the uterus.” Thank you — someone actually understands why The Pill is NOT a contraceptive, but an abortifacient since a secondary action is to make the endometrium hostile to implantation, preventing pregnancy but not conception. The anti-choice agenda has always been much broader than surgical abortion. And good point, also, Jibba about blood transfusions.


  21. - Kelly Cassidy - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    Putting out a press release announcing the receipt of a letter of acknowledgement is a little bit like Steve Martin in “The Jerk” celebrating the arrival of the new phone books. This is little more than a letter of receipt from the U.S. Department of HHS for the complaint filed by the Thomas More Society some time ago. It is part of the on-going and ceaseless effort to block access to abortion and other reproductive health care in Illinois — for all people.  We feel confident that it will meet with the same level of success that the Society’s legal arguments experienced during the legislative debates in the General Assembly and their efforts in state court.  They lost.  That is the story.


  22. - H-W - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 2:30 pm:

    Discrimination is an action, not an idea.

    What actually discrimination is alleged to have taken place? For example, has the Thomas More Society been forbidden from using its current insurance provider? Has it provider been prevented from offering insurance? If not, then discrimination has not occurred.


  23. - Mama - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 2:35 pm:

    It is my understanding that the insurance only pays for late term abortion when a mother’s life is in danger.


  24. - Captain Obvious - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 2:40 pm:

    How is killing an unborn child a reproductive right? It isn’t healthcare either. It is the antithesis of healthcare to end a human life intentionally, and if an unborn child is not human life, then what kind of life is it? I am fascinated by a brain that can see and understand the horrific taking of human life by monsters like Stalin and condemn it, but think the mass taking of life by abortion is perfectly acceptable. I hope for humanity’s sake that 1 of the 60 million aborted since 73 wasn’t going to be the person who cured cancer.


  25. - H-W - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 2:40 pm:

    Has anyone from the Thomas More Society actually sought abortion coverage otherwise to date? It seems to me claiming discrimination would require so, and then also require the insurer to refuse to pay. In the absence of such a case, no actual discrimination has occurred, right.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    === How is killing an unborn child a reproductive right?===

    You would require a woman to go to full term and deliver in all cases of pregnancy?

    Are you a woman?

    That’s what your comment reads like.


  27. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:21 pm:

    ===and if an unborn child is not human life, then what kind of life is it?===

    A mass of cells growing in a woman’s body that may eventually become a human life. There is no magic that occurs at the moment of conception. It’s biology, not theology.


  28. - former state employee - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 3:22 pm:

    I find it hard to believe when some are so eager to tout the sanctity of life and ignore the babies still in cages at the border.


  29. - Chris in DuPage - Wednesday, Jan 27, 21 @ 8:33 pm:

    Illinois violated federal law. HHS funding should be stripped from Illinois until the state reverses this law. Also, all HHS funding provided to Illinois from the effective date of the law until now should be paid back.


  30. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 6:26 am:

    === Illinois violated federal law. HHS funding should be stripped from Illinois until the state reverses this law.===
    How so? In what way did Illinois discriminate against insurers? What are the names of those insurance companies?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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