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Oregon governor signs bill requiring health insurers to cover abortion

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation Tuesday requiring health insurers to cover birth control and abortion without charging patients a co-pay. (2015 file photo/Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)

Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation Tuesday requiring health insurers to cover birth control and abortion without charging patients a co-pay, The Washington Post reported.

According to ABC News, the bill — the Reproductive Health Equity Act, HB 3391 — also allocates almost $500,000 in state funds to provide abortion procedures to illegal immigrants who are excluded from Medicaid. ABC News noted the state already spends almost $2 million in taxpayer funds each year to pay for about 3,500 abortion procedures in the state.

The Post reported that the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon — comprised of groups like NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon — helped write the law.

In a statement, Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, said, “There are many things that make Oregon a wonderful state. Unfortunately, HB 3391 is not one of them.”

Atteberry said that, by signing the law, “Gov. Brown demonstrated her extreme bias in favor of the abortion rights lobby, disregarding thousands of future Oregonians whose lives have been further endangered by making their elimination 100 percent expense-free.”

“Oregon taxpayers already cover nearly 50 percent of all abortions in the state whether they like it or not,” Atteberry said. “By making abortion free, this percentage will inevitably increase. We also expect more late-term abortions, which are currently very expensive as well as risky to perform. All completely covered by either insurance companies or by the Oregon taxpayers.”

A spokesperson for Oregon Right to Life said the group will continue “working to increase awareness and support of life-affirming alternatives to abortion.”

Proponents of the law described it as a response to attempts by congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Laurel Swerdlow, advocacy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said in a statement provided to KTVZ-TV: "We are so grateful for the bold leadership of Governor Brown and legislative champions who understand that Oregonians don't want reproductive health care attacked.”

“Women, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, people of color, immigrants and people of faith are not going to silently stand around while politicians in Washington, D.C., try to take away our health care," Swerdlow said.

Also on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill barring insurers from covering elective abortion procedures in health insurance plans. Those who want such coverage would be required to pay an additional premium.

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