House Bill involving abortion is sparking argument among lawmakers

A controversial bill moving through Oregon’s Legislature has representatives on both sides in a heated debate.

It would guarantee women access to a certain level of reproductive health coverage including abortion.

Planned Parenthood Advocates for Oregon represents offices throughout the state. The executive director of the group says she would be thrilled if the bill were to pass, but others are very much against it.

“House Bill 3391 is a bill for reproductive health equity,” Executive Director Mary Nolan said.

House Bill 3391 would require insurance companies to expand reproductive health coverage in Oregon.

That means many services would be covered at no cost to women with coverage.

“We are delighted that the bill includes an enumeration that lists all available reproductive health services. That includes abortion,” Nolan said.

Mary Nolan is the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.

She says the bill would ensure every Oregonian the power to decide when and whether to become a parent regardless of income, type of insurance, or citizenship status.

However, the bill is sparking argument among lawmakers because of its provision about abortion.

“This debate has been about preserving life. It’s been about the designation of over $500,000 dollars of taxpayer money to end the life of unborn humans,” U.S. Representative Duane Stark said.

U.S. Representative Duane Stark is among 23 others who voted against the bill Saturday.

Opponents say it could violate the moral convictions of a few select employers with deeply held religious beliefs.

“At an average of $15,000 dollars per abortion procedure, that’s 333 unborn lives that could be terminated with taxpayer dollars,” U.S. Representative Stark said.

Nolan says on the contrary, many leaders of faith have signed on to support House Bill 3391 because she says it protects religious freedom by assuring individual oregonians can make medical choices – including whether to have an abortion – that reflect their own religious views.

While the main point of contention appears to be abortion coverage, Nolan says it’s about so much more.

“What it’s really about is empowering people – men, women, young adults – to be the definers of their own destiny,” Nolan said.

The bill passed the House Saturday.

Now, it’s in the Senate.

You can read the entire bill here.

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