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President Trump walks away after speaking at the 47th March For Life rally on the National Mall, Jan. 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Trump administration on Friday issued a "notice of violation" to California, threatening to cut the state's federal health care funding if it continues to require that insurance plans cover abortion.

The big picture: The Department of Health and Human Services said the requirement violates a law that bans the federal government from giving funding to states or other entities that discriminate against health care providers that object to providing abortions.

Between the lines: The announcement was timed to coincide with President Trump's speech before anti-abortion activists at the March for Life rally, per AP. Trump is the first sitting president to speak at the event.

  • "Religious conservatives are a core element of Trump's political coalition, and his administration has gone out of its way to deliver on their demands," AP writes.

What they're saying:

"No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions [...] We are putting California on notice that it must stop forcing people of good will to subsidize the taking of human life, not only because it's the moral thing to do, but because it's the law."
— Roger Severino, director of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights, in a news release
"Women's health should never be dangled as bait for the sake of political grandstanding. Today, Donald Trump is using the official levers of government to advance his political agenda. Sound familiar? In California, we will continue to protect our families' access to healthcare, including women’s constitutional right to abortion. Nothing changes."
— California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a news release

Go deeper ... Where abortion restrictions stand: The states that have passed laws

Go deeper

57 mins ago - World

COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming

Recreated from Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

South Africa alerted the world to the Omicron variant. Now data out of South Africa may serve as a warning of what we're facing.

Driving the news: South Africa recorded 11,535 new cases Thursday with 22.4% of tests coming back positive — up from an average of about 300 new cases, with a 2% test positivity rate 10 days earlier. The country's top public health officials expect that exponential rise to continue as Omicron rapidly becomes the dominant variant.

BuzzFeed to go public, after shareholders approve SPAC deal

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is set to become publicly traded on Monday, after shareholders of a SPAC called 890 Fifth Avenue Partners voted to approve a previously-announced merger.

Yes, but: The vast majority of the money the SPAC raised in January was yanked, a signal that investors aren't very optimistic about BuzzFeed's future prospects.

Omicron cases confirmed in 4 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Five cases of the newly-discovered Omicron variant were detected in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday, making New York the fourth state with confirmed cases.

The latest: In addition to New York, the variant has been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.