In 2016, House Bill 3391 was rammed through the legislature, forcing insurance companies to cover abortions with no deductible or copays. What may not be as well known is that this law also increases the leverage the state government has to pressure local governments to provide more abortions. To help counterbalance this, Oregon Right to Life has been closely following the regulatory process and pushing back in local elections.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is constructing rules for implementing the law. Local health departments must sign new contracts with OHA to continue receiving federal and state funding for family planning services. When a county’s contract is up for renewal, OHA could mandate that local health departments must offer abortion services. This is due to a provision in HB 3391 that prohibits local governments from stopping a woman from obtaining an abortion and from prohibiting abortion services from being offered.
The impacts of HB 3391 have increased the importance of local elections. One of ORTL PAC’s top priorities this election was holding all pro-life seats on the Marion County Commission. Salem sits in the very center of Marion County and is the second largest metropolitan area in the state. It is critical that pro-life advocates have a hand in the policy making process on the county level. We successfully helped Colm Willis, former ORTL political director, win his bid for an open seat on the commission against a candidate backed by the abortion industry.
Pro-life champions like Colm Willis are on the inside, learning how HB 3391 will be implemented in county health departments. They will push for life-affirming policies. With Oregon’s increasingly pro-abortion legislature, the importance of supporting local pro-life candidates and staying engaged with county and city policy makers continues to grow.