Oregon already boasts among the most liberal abortion laws in the nation, but over the weekend the state’s House passed a measure unlike any the United States. In a party-line 17-13 vote, the Democratic majority Oregon Senate voted Wednesday to require insurance companies in the state to fully cover the costs of abortion procedures for the patients that they insure.
The new Oregon abortion measure would not allow insurance companies to withhold coverage based on their clients’ gender identity, income or citizen status. The abortion measure would also not allow insurers to factor in the reason a patient chooses abortion. Rather, patients in Oregon could get their abortion 100 percent covered by their insurer even if it was being performed for sex-selection or at a late gestational age (i.e. “late-term abortion).
While the new Oregon abortion measure will allow for a handful of exemptions, those will be incredibly narrow and limited to churches and other non-profit organizations of a religious persuasion.
According to public health nurse and Democratic Oregon Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, the new measure may help stop the “cycle of poverty.”
“Unintended pregnancies can perpetuate cycles of poverty, and we can help stop it. It is a woman’s right to choose when and if she is ready in her life to have a child.”
In addition to being legally obligated to provide cost-free abortion coverage – for any reason – to their patients, Oregon insurers would be legally prohibited from passing abortion costs resulting from the new measure down to patients. The new measure would ensure that Oregon women are covered even if the ACA is repealed and “Trump Care” becomes a reality.
The new Oregon abortion bill has been in the works among the state’s predominantly liberal lawmakers for years but was officially introduced in March. The timing of the abortion measure coincides with a new Republican presidency and widespread conservative efforts to curtail abortion rights on a federal level. As one of his earliest acts as POTUS, Donald Trump signed a bill to keep federal dollars out of the hands of Planned Parenthood and other family planning services that provide abortion services.
In all, the new Oregon reproductive bill will cost the state an estimated $10 million, with $500,000 over two years allocated to grow the state’s “cost-free reproductive health coverage, including abortions, to immigrants who are otherwise ineligible under the Oregon Health Plan.”
Not surprisingly, Oregon’s Republican lawmakers, an underwhelming minority of the state’s full legislature, are infuriated by the new abortion measure. Republican Senator Dennis Linthicum had the following to say about the passage of the controversial bill.
“We are both a sanctuary state for illegal aliens, and we are a sanctuary state for federally illegal, taxpayer subsidized abortion. We should not be showering politically well-connected abortion clinics with political gift cards under the guise of ‘equity,’ that is totally discreditable.”
The new Oregon abortion bill is now headed to the desk of Governor Kate Brown, a pro-choice Democrat.
[Featured Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]