CHRISTIANITY DAILY

Oregon Legislature Passes Bill Expanding Access to Abortion and Reproductive Health Services

Oregon State Capitol
(Photo : Public Domain) Oregon's State Capitol building in Salem, pictured in 2007.

A bill in Oregon State that requires private insurance to cover the cost of abortion procedures was passed by the Oregon Senate on July 5.

House Bill 3391, also named the Reproductive Health Equity Act, now awaits signature by Governor Kate Brown.

The bill passed in the Oregon House with a 33-23 vote on July 1 and in the Oregon Senate with a 17-13 vote on July 5, both along party lines.

Representative Julie Fahey said in a statement that, “affordable access to reproductive health care shouldn’t depend on who you are, where you live, or how much you earn,” adding that, “health care is a basic human right.”

The bill aims to provide the service of abortion procedure at no cost to patients. However, some of the financial costs will come out of taxpayer money. House Bill 3391 will allocate almost $500,000 during the next two-year period, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

These services will be available both for those private insured and those that are a part of the state’s Medicaid program, which currently pays for about 3,500 abortions within the state, spending almost $2 million a year. However, undocumented residents who are ineligible for Medicaid can take also part in these services, with the costs being paid for the state’s general fund, according to the bill.

Oregon’s $10 million health care bill requires health plans to cover the costs of various services other than abortion such as vasectomies, prenatal and postpartum services, as well as screenings for breast cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

The bill states that employers may receive religious-based exemptions “only if the insurer notifies in writing all employees who may be enrolled in the health benefit plan of the contraceptives or procedures the employer refuses to cover for religious reasons.” Those eligible for these exemptions are those who employ and serve people who share the religious views of the employer, as well as religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations, as stated in Oregon state statutes.

Supporters lauded the passage of the bill, saying HB 3391 will provide access to more comprehensive reproductive health services in the state in the midst of efforts from the Trump administration and Republican members in Congress to restrict those services under the Affordable Care Act.

However, opponents cited concerns that the bill will cause an increase in the rate of abortions taking place in the state.

“Will House Bill 3391 increase or decrease the number of abortions in the state of Oregon? If it will decrease the number then sign me up. But I’m afraid we all know that’s not the case,” stated Representative Werner Reschke.

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