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Oregon House OKs reproductive health care bill for women | Local

SALEM — The Oregon House engaged in a uncommon and sometimes somber flooring ­debate on abortion Saturday earlier than ­majority Democrats handed a women’s health care bill.

House Bill 3391 ­would require Ore­gon insurers to cowl many reproductive health providers for women, ­together with abortion, ­with out ­charging them any out-of-pocket ­expense. It additionally ­extends the identical protection to ­unauthorized immigrants, at a two-year value to the state of $10.2 million.

The controversial bill handed on a largely party-line 33-23 vote, after a number of hours of debate.

All House Republicans voted “no,” joined by Rep. John Lively, a ­Springfield Democrat.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Williamson of Portland stated the coverage would imply “healthier individuals” and “healthier families.”

“The amount of money a person makes should not determine their access to health care,” she stated.

Added Rep. Julie ­Fahey, a Eugene Democrat and bill chief sponsor: “Health care is a basic human right.”

But the bill provoked an emotional ­response from House Republicans, lots of whom are ­personally against abortion.

Rep. Andy Olson, an Albany Republican, ­recounted the story of his granddaughter, born ­untimely at 25 weeks. The woman died as an toddler. Near tears, he stated that baby was “a whole ­little girl,” but might have been ­legally aborted ­underneath ­Oregon regulation. “I can’t reconcile in my mind, how anyone who has a walk with God, can support this,” he stated, slamming his hand on his desk. “I just can’t get there with you.”

In addition to abortion, the bill requires insurers to offer free providers for women that embrace: contraception; prenatal and postpartum care; screenings for sexually transmitted illnesses, cervical and breast most cancers; breastfeeding help and provides; counseling for home ­violence victims; and tobacco cessation.

In a concession by Democrats, spiritual employers can be exempt from having to offer health plans with abortion or contraceptive protection. And one main insurer in Oregon, Providence, a Catholic group, efficiently lobbied to be faraway from the requirement as properly. Providence covers round 260,000 ­Oregonians.

The bill grants comparable health and reproductive providers to unauthorized immigrant women who would in any other case qualify for the protection underneath the ­Oregon Health Plan, the state’s model of ­Medicaid, due to their low revenue.

OHA estimates virtually 23,000 unauthorized immigrants would obtain such providers in the course of the subsequent two years, costing the state $10.2 million. Of that, an ­estimated $500,000 would cowl ­abortions for these women.

Rep. Duane Stark, a Grants Pass ­Republican, stated he might really feel “rage coming up through (his) neck” when he considered taxpayer dollars paying for these abortions. “These little humans have a heartbeat 18 days after conception,” he stated. “Science clearly shows that life begins in the womb.”

But House Democrats refused to be drawn right into a dragged-out battle about abortion, with solely three of their 35 current members talking up on the bill in any respect.

Frustrated average Republicans, in the meantime, stated the bill would heighten partisan tensions within the last days of session. Rep. Knute Buehler, a Bend Republican and certain gubernatorial candidate, stated that he’s personally pro-abortion. But he voted “no” on the bill, partially due to its value.

Democrats, he stated, are “play(ing) politics with an issue that’s deeply personal.”

But the Oregon Pro-Choice Coalition stated in a press launch that the bill “will ensure that every Oregonian can decide when and whether to become a parent — regardless of income, type of insurance, citizenship status or gender identity.”

The bill now heads to the Senate, the place it’s ­anticipated to cross.

Follow Saul on Twitter @SaulAHubbard . Email .

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