Oregon House Passes Bill for Free Abortions

Jul 7, 2017

The Oregon House of Representatives passed HB 3391, known as the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which requires health insurers and taxpayers to fund free abortions for residents and illegal immigrants. The bill passed 33-23 last Saturday and has now advanced to the state Senate for consideration.

The bill would force health insurers to provide free abortions without a co-pay. HB 3391 also would set aside $10.2 million tax dollars for abortions, contraception and other reproductive health services for 2017 through 2019 in Medicaid. An Oregon Health Authority official testified that this bill will provide almost $500,000 more for abortions, which will go to Planned Parenthood.

The Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon, which includes Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon and NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, took credit for devising the bill and praised legislators for its passage.

The measure provides an abortion exemption for churches and religious nonprofits, notably Providence Health Plans, a Catholic-sponsored health care group that covers 260,000 Oregonians and had threatened to exit the individual and group insurance markets if forced to cover the procedure. However, the so-called religious exemption within the bill does not guarantee insurance options that do not cover abortions. Currently, almost all insurance companies in Oregon offer plans that cover abortions, but that is not a requirement under law. HB 3391 would force health insurance companies to cover abortions and let them decide whether to provide a separate abortion-free plan for religious organizations.

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