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SALEM, Ore. -- Insurance companies in Oregon would be required to cover abortions and other reproductive services at no cost to the patient regardless of income, citizenship status or gender identity under a measure approved Wednesday by lawmakers.

The Democratic-controlled Oregon Senate approved the measure in a 17-13 vote along party lines. It now heads to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.

Oregon already has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the U.S., leaving out otherwise common requirements for waiting periods or spending limits on taxpayer funds.

The measure, which offers some religion-based exemptions, comes as the federal government and other states are seeking restrictions on abortion services.

President Donald Trump earlier this year signed legislation allowing states to withhold federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. In May, the Texas Legislature approved a package of new abortion limits.

Oregon's legislation has been in the making for years but was introduced in early March largely in response to Republican congressional leaders' earliest attempts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which includes minimum coverage requirements for birth control and other reproductive services.

In some states, such as New York, abortions are cost-free if they're deemed medically necessary. The Oregon bill is unique, however, in that patients would have access to the procedure for virtually any reason, at any time, including sex-selective and late-term abortions.

The bill would also allocate almost $500,000 over the next two years to expand cost-free reproductive health coverage, including abortions, to foreigners who are otherwise ineligible under the state's Medicaid program, which currently spends nearly $2 million a year to pay for about 3,500 abortions statewide.

Oregon's $10 million reproductive health care bill would also provide public funds for family planning services and postpartum care for low-income residents.

Under the bill, all government and private-sector health plans must also cover birth control, vasectomies, prenatal and postpartum care, counseling for domestic abuse victims, and screenings for cervical and breast cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

A Section on 07/06/2017

Print Headline: Abortion coverage bill passes in Oregon

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