Oregon's full-tilt mandate for abortion-on-demand insurance coverage, public funding almost complete

Oregon’s legislature wants to cement the state’s status as the most abortion-friendly in the US — and its governor is champing at the bit to finalize it. Last week, lawmakers passed a bill that would require insurers to pay 100% of all abortion-on-demand costs no matter how late-term they may be, and regardless of motive. It would also require insurers to pay $10 million into a fund for public funding of abortions in what is clearly a gift to Planned Parenthood:

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. …

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 late-term abortions.

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.

Governor Kate Brown, who previously worked as a lobbyist for the abortion industry, cheered on these government mandates for abortion at all times for any reason:

She may not be cheering when religious-based providers start closing their doors. The legislature added in some exemptions based on religious conscience, but Portland’s Catholic Sentinel reports that they are still inadequate to protect religious providers against the mandates of the state. It’s especially frustrating because some of the pro-life legislators wanted to support the broader goals of the health-care bill before Democrats added the abortion-on-demand mandate:

Earlier, Providence Health System had threatened to exit the state’s insurance market, saying the religious exemptions did not go far enough. Though the bill’s handlers did increase exemptions, GOP lawmakers say the provisions still fall short.

The bill orders the Oregon Health Authority to provide coverage where religious organizations will not.

The House majority leader, Rep. Jennifer Williamson, a Portland Democrat, was a chief supporter of the proposed law, saying high medical bills can prompt bankruptcy or homelessness.

Pro-life lawmakers approved of much of the bill, but questioned why abortion had to be included, causing a moral crisis. They attempted to have abortion provisions removed, but that motion failed.

Providence is run by the Catholic Church, which has Oregon’s bishops insisting that the bill get pulled back. Failing that, they will shift their efforts to a referendum next year that will excise the abortion provisions from the bill. They will need to get 117,000 signatures to get it on the ballot:

“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 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.

My Townhall colleague Guy Benson is appalled — and for good reason:

If you are an illegal immigrant whose fetus is in her third trimester of development, and you decide that you’d prefer a boy instead, your totally elective, sex-selective, late-term abortion is not only legal under this law — taxpayers will pay for it, or your insurance plan must cover it with no copay.  It’s difficult to imagine anything more extreme, aside from compulsory abortions.  It’s horrifying.  Every single Oregon Senate Democrat voted in favor of this monstrosity, with every Republican opposed.  The House vote was also almost exclusively along party lines.  Governor Brown giddily vowed to sign the legislation, calling opposition to tax-funded late-term abortion “an attack on all Oregonians.”  Orwellian.

He’s also appalled by the lack of interest shown by the national news media on this issue. This mainly flew under the radar, which may have helped Democrats push it through to victory last week. While one can note that Oregon’s far outside the NYC-DC media bubble, Guy points out that the same is true for Texas on its abortion bill, Indiana for its religious-freedom bill, and Arizona’s immigration-enforcement bill. National media outlets had no trouble turning those into national news stories, supposedly because conflict sells and not out of editorial bias — so why did they miss an obvious flashpoint policy debate in Oregon? “What a mystery,” Guy sarcastically concludes.

Perhaps, but it’s not too late, especially if pro-life activists can get the referendum on the state ballot next fall. And maybe that referendum will remind voters in Oregon to elect people who are less inclined to impose a radical pro-abortion agenda sotto voce while campaigning as common-sense centrists every two or four years.