The Oregon State Senate passed the omnibus House Bill 4034 18–12 along party lines. In sections 9–12, the bill exempted the Reproductive Healthcare Equity Act (RHEA) from a longstanding automatic sunset provision and granted the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) indefinite power to “implement reproductive health services and education programs” by rulemaking. Democrat lawmakers described this portion of the bill as a “technical fix” that would have no fiscal impact.
“This bill grants broad authority to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to push their pro-abortion agenda,” said Lois Anderson, Executive Director of Oregon Right to Life. “The fact that this bill was rushed through a short session without dialogue or debate, frankly, is frightening.”
Throughout the legislative process, Democrat lawmakers were extremely reticent in response to questions and concerns raised by constituents and Republican legislators. Anderson continued, “Pro-life advocates sent thousands of emails. Legislators also received hundreds of calls. We still don’t know what’s being accomplished by the reproductive healthcare portion of this bill.”
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The Reproductive Healthcare Equity Act, passed in 2017, required health insurance providers to cover abortions completely. Taxpayer funds are used to fulfill this requirement for individuals on the Oregon Health Plan. Under a 1985 law, legal requirements that compel health insurance companies to provide specific coverage are automatically sunset after six years. RHEA, which would have ended in 2023, is now exempt from that regulation.