Oregon state lawmakers have advanced a $10 million reproductive health care bill that would require all insurance companies throughout the state to provide free abortions to all women, even if they are living in the U.S. illegally.
If the bill becomes law, the legislation would allocate nearly half a million dollars during the 2017-19 budget period to expand free reproductive health care — including abortions — to illegal immigrants who would otherwise be barred from accessing the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program. The bill would provide coverage to the estimated 22,873 women living in the state illegally.
Recently Oregon became the first state to allow a third gender option on driver’s licenses.
The Oregon Health Plan currently spends roughly $2 million per year to pay for about 3,500 abortions statewide.
State Rep. Julie Fahey, a Democrat, praised the House for advancing the bill. She told the Statesman Journal that health care “is a basic human right” and later tweeted that state-funded coverage should not be dependent upon a person’s legal status.
It should be pointed out that the bill does offer religious exemption for providers who object to abortion and birth control. However, the proposal requires the Oregon Health Authority to pick up the slack, providing abortion coverage to patients wherever it is excluded.
“Oregon is once again leading the way on health care,” Oregon House Democrats said shortly after voting on the measure, according to the Washington Times. “Even while [President Donald Trump’s] administration and Republicans in Congress are trying to strip away reproductive rights, Oregon is ensuring access regardless of income, citizenship status, gender identity, or type of insurance.”
Conservatives were not as happy about the bill’s advancement.
Republican state Rep. Jodi Hack described Saturday, when the vote took place, as “the saddest day I have experienced in the Oregon Legislature.”
And Jonathan Lockwood, communications director for the state Senate Republican Caucus, accused the Democratic majority of trying to cozy up to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.
“This highly contentious bill isn’t about health care or about people, it is a political gift card to Planned Parenthood,” he said.
This latest development comes after House Democrats voted down a bill that would have banned late-term abortions “undertaken solely because of the known or suspected sex of the unborn child” — a practice already banned in seven states.
“Oregon has arguably the most liberal abortion laws in the country,” Republican state Rep. Sherrie Sprenger said in a statement. “I am disappointed that our effort to add some common sense to our laws was rejected today.”
State Rep. Bill Post, also a Republican, was not happy about the bill’s passage, either, tweeting, “It’s a new weird sort of ‘social justice’ where only those we deem fit to live get social justice.”
Democratic lawmakers, who also hold a majority in the Senate, have to consider the legislation by July 10, when the legislative session ends. Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, is a Democrat.