Federal Judge Rejects California Suit Against U.S. Abortion Law
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White dismissed a 2005 lawsuit challenging a provision of a federal budget law that California officials say conflicts with state laws ensuring women's access to abortions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
A budget amendment sponsored by Rep. David Weldon (R-Fla.) allows the U.S. government to withhold federal funding from states that discriminate against doctors, hospitals or insurers that do not provide abortions or referrals for the procedure. President Bush first signed a bill with the amendment in 2004, and it has since been extended.
California officials say the Weldon Amendment could lead to conflicts with a state law that requires any hospital or clinic to provide an abortion in cases where a woman's life or health is in danger because of childbirth. A separate California law permits health care providers to refuse to perform abortions on religious grounds under ordinary circumstances.
In the suit, California officials argued that the state could lose $37 billion in federal funding if the state enforced its own law on access to abortions in an emergency in violation of the Weldon Amendment.
However, White ruled that the challenge was untimely, saying that such a situation would have to present itself and that the federal government would have to move to deny California federal funds before such a suit could be heard (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/19).