NEW - 2 hours ago
Oregon to make abortion coverage free for all
SALEM, Ore. (BP) -- Oregon health insurers and taxpayers will soon be paying for abortion, contraceptives and sterilization under a new law Gov. Kate Brown has vowed to sign.
The newly-passed Reproductive Health Equity Act forbids health insurance plans from imposing "a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirement" for abortion, STD screening, prenatal care, post-natal care and all forms of contraception.
Churches and religious nonprofits will be exempt from the law if they notify employees they don't cover contraceptives or abortion. Their employees may turn to Oregon's general fund, padded with more than $10 million, to cover abortion and contraceptives.
The bill also allocates $500,000 to cover abortions and contraceptives for illegal immigrants.
"Yes! Yes! Yes!" Brown's office posted on Twitter after the Senate sent the bill to Brown on a 17-13 vote on July 5.
Brown said she plans to sign the bill, since being able "to control our bodies and make informed decisions about health are critical to providing all Oregonians the opportunity to achieve our full potential and live productive, thriving lives."
Oregon Right to Life executive director Gayle Atteberry called the bill "morally reprehensible" and warned the abortion rate probably will rise -- especially high-cost, late-term abortions.
Atteberry said the bill "was politically calculated to ensure Planned Parenthood has funding in a time when they are at risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government."
Oregon has no restrictions on abortion, and pro-life Rep. Mike Nearman challenged the bill on the House floor, arguing, "We don't need to do this. This is Oregon. There [are] no legal restrictions on anyone's right to get an abortion. None. You can get an abortion at any time for any reason. Even sex-selection."
While many states work to pass pro-life laws, abortion advocates are ramping up retaliation efforts, said Denise Burke, Americans United for Life's vice president of legal affairs.
"Not only is the abortion industry encouraging legislative action, it is also increasingly filing court challenges to these common sense and popularly supported [pro-life] laws," Burke said. "Abortion advocates recognize that public opinion is turning against them and that another Supreme Court vacancy may be imminent. As a result, they are doing everything that they can to protect their radical, unapologetic and unrestricted abortion-on-demand agenda."
Delaware recently legalized abortion through all nine months, joining at least four other states that would permit abortion even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
The Oregon bill's sponsor, Rep. Julie Fahey, noted her goal for the bill was to follow those states' examples, especially in anticipation of a possible Republican repeal of Obamacare.