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SALEM, Oregon (LifeSiteNews) — Oregon’s Democrat-controlled state senate voted Wednesday to force insurance companies in the state to pay for abortion claims, permanently enforcing a 2017 bill which requires health insurers to provide for abortions.

House Bill 4034 18–12 also grants the Oregon Health Authority the power to “implement reproductive health services and education programs and provide funding for reproductive health services and education in this state” from taxpayer funds.

The bill, which passed with 18 Democrat votes in favor and 8 Republican votes against, decrees that any “health benefit plan offered in this state must provide coverage for … Screening and appropriate interventions for … Abortion” as well as “[a]ny contraceptive drug, device or product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.”

Until now, the Reproductive Health Equity Act 2017 — which required private insurance plans “to cover abortions with no out-of-pocket costs” — was subject to a mandatory sunset clause after six years. The new HB 4034 exempts the Reproductive Health Equity Act from the 1985 regulation which provided the automatic sunset clause for laws requiring health insurers to provide specific coverage, making the act effective permanently.

Under section 12 of the bill, a provision was made for insurers to offer a health benefit plan to religious employers “that does not include coverage for contraceptives or abortion procedures that are contrary to the religious employer’s religious tenets.” The insurer must notify all employees who could be enrolled in the plan of the services not covered as a result of the employer’s religious reasoning, according to the legislation.

Lois Anderson, Executive Director of Oregon Right to Life, criticized that the new bill was granting “broad authority to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to push their pro-abortion agenda.” She derided “that this bill was rushed through a short session without dialogue or debate,” and described the process as “frightening.”

Anderson explained that “pro-life advocates sent thousands of emails. Legislators also received hundreds of calls,” but Democrats were slow to respond to the concerns of their constituents.

“We still don’t know what’s being accomplished by the reproductive healthcare portion of this bill,” Anderson warned.

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