The Oregon governor is expected to sign into law a proposal requiring Oregon insurers to cover abortion on demand and increasing taxpayer funding for abortion, drawing strong criticism from Catholic leaders.
“By insisting on complete insurance coverage of abortion, including late-term and sex-selective abortions, the legislature shows itself intolerant of widely-held opposing views and will compel thousands of Oregonians to support what their conscience rejects,” the Oregon Catholic Conference said.
“House Bill 3391 forces insurance companies to cover abortion on demand and it forces all Oregon taxpayers to help finance an extremist abortion agenda that does not enjoy majority support.”
The Oregon House of Representatives passed the bill July 5 by a 33-23 vote. The Senate passed the bill 17-13.
The initial version of the bill’s religious exemptions were so narrow that the Catholic-run Providence Health System threatened to exit the state’s insurance market. The bill’s backers increased exemptions to the bill, but some objecting lawmakers said the provisions did not go far enough, the Catholic Sentinel reports. The exemptions apply to churches and other religious nonprofits.
Under the bill, the Oregon Health Authority must now provide abortion coverage where religious organizations will not.
The bill aims to counter expected changes in federal health care policy. It increases state spending by $10.2 million, most of the funding aiming to provide free coverage of exams, drugs, devices, and procedures. Abortion is considered a procedure under the law.
Under the Oregon Medicaid program, over $2 million is spent each year to pay for about 3,500 abortions, the Associated Press reports. The proposed bill sets aside about $500,000 over the next two years to expand free reproductive health coverage, including abortion, to immigrants.
The Oregon Catholic Conference voiced hope that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will not sign the law.
The conference encouraged citizens opposed to H.B. 3391 to support the proposed 2018 ballot initiative called the Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The proposal would bar state funds for any abortion that is not medically necessary or when spending is required by federal law.
The petition needs 117,000 signatures from registered Oregonian voters in order to qualify for the ballot.