Oregon approves measure requiring insurers to
KRISTENA HANSEN, AP, Herald and News 7/6/17
SALEM (AP) — Insurance companies in Oregon would be required to
cover abortions and other reproductive services at no cost to
the patient regardless of income, citizenship status or gender
identity under a measure approved Wednesday by lawmakers.
Oregon already has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the
U.S., leaving out otherwise common requirements for waiting
periods or spending limits on taxpayer funds.
The measure, which does offer some religious-based exemptions,
comes as the federal government and other states are seeking
restrictions on abortion services.
President Donald Trump earlier this year signed legislation
allowing states to withhold federal family planning funds from
Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. In May, the
Texas Legislature approved a sweeping package of new abortion
Oregon’s legislation has been in the making for years but was
introduced in early March largely in response to Republican
congressional leaders’ earliest attempts to repeal former
President Barack Obama’s health care law, which includes minimum
coverage requirements for birth control and other reproductive
The Democratic-controlled Oregon Senate approved the measure in
a 17-13 vote along party lines. It now heads to Democratic Gov.
In some states such as New York, abortions are cost-free if
they’re deemed medically necessary. The Oregon bill is unique,
however, in that patients would have access to the procedure for
virtually any reason, at any time, including sex-selective and
The bill would also allocate almost $500,000 over the next two
years to expand cost-free reproductive health coverage,
including abortions, to immigrants who are otherwise ineligible
under the Oregon Health Plan — the state’s Medicaid program that
currently spends nearly $2 million a year to pay for roughly
3,500 abortions statewide.
“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,” said Sen. Laurie
Monnes Anderson, a Democrat who is also a public health nurse.
Oregon’s $10 million reproductive health care bill would also
provide public funds for family planning services and
post-partum care for low-income residents.
All government and private-sector health plans must also cover
birth control, vasectomies, prenatal and post-partum care,
counseling for domestic abuse victims as well as screenings for
cervical and breast cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.
Insurers would be prohibited from shifting costs of those
mandates to enrollees’ deductibles, coinsurance or copayments,
although the bill offers some religious-based exemptions as
The measure offers some religious-based exemptions, as dictated
by federal law, which apply narrowly to churches and other
The Republican minority in the Oregon Legislature was angered by
passage of the bill.
“We are both a sanctuary state for illegal aliens, and we are a
sanctuary state for federally illegal, taxpayer subsidized
abortion,” said Sen. Dennis Linthicum. “We should not be
showering politically well-connected abortion clinics with
political gift cards under the guise of ‘equity,’ that is
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