Oregon passes bill requiring insurance companies to include abortion in coverage

Oregon's Senate passed a bill on July 5 which instructs insurance companies to include free abortions in their coverage, at the same time providing exemption for faith-based companies and nonprofits.

(REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton)A pro-life campaigner holds up a model of a 12-week-old embryo during a protest outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast October 18, 2012.

HB 3391 was passed by lawmakers in Oregon on Wednesday after it was approved by the House on July 1. The legislation obliges all insurance companies in the state to cover abortion, contraceptives, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, and several other services, Christian News detailed.

Religious corporations and nonprofits, however, were given a provision for exemption. The newly passed bill stipulated that "that "[a]n insurer may offer to a religious employer a health benefit plan that does not include coverage for contraceptives or abortion procedures that are contrary to the religious employer's religious tenets" if the insurer informs the employees about the services that their employer excludes in their coverage.

Should employees wish to have abortions or obtain contraceptive, the Oregon Health Authority will create a program that would give them "statewide access to abortion coverage for Oregon residents enrolled in health benefit plans."

What makes HB 3391 different is its provision for access to abortion for any reason. Plus, it had no restrictions on sex-selective and late-term pregnancy terminations, Christian Broadcasting Network noted.

Republicans had objected to the bill and expressed horror at the half million dollars allotted for abortions. Rep. Andy Olson (R-Albany), who was overcome with emotion as he detailed how his premature granddaughter died, said he could not bring himself to think how a godly person could support the measure.

Oregon Right to Life executive director Gayle Atteberry lamented that HB 3391 was a boon to Planned Parenthood. In a statement, she said the bill was an example of how the biggest abortion provider in the state showed that it was only concerned for its finances.

Democrats, on the other hand, focused on women's rights and benefits for the poor as they defended the bill, which goes into effect immediately. Oregon's Democratic governor Kate Brown expressed her intention to sign HB 3391 into law.