Oregon’s governor recently signed a new law mandating all health insurance carriers in that state offer coverage for abortion at no cost to patients. The law includes an exemption for religious employers, but the definition of religious employer under the law is very narrow and would not apply to religious entities not affiliated with the Church or that primarily serve those outside the Church.
The new law also does not provide any conscience protection for healthcare providers who might object to providing such services. The law is in violation of the federal Weldon Amendment, which prohibits states from discriminating against healthcare providers or insurers that refuse to provide coverage for or who refuse to participate in abortion. Oregon joins California, New York, Washington, Alaska, and Illinois in passing laws in violation of the Weldon Amendment. The Oregon law highlights the need for federal statutory conscience protection, but passing such a statute has proven difficult in a divided Congress.