Editorial: Oregon plants a flag – creating more divisiveness

Last week Gov. Kate Brown signed a landmark bill to provide free abortions for all in Oregon, by requiring insurance companies to cover the procedures and billing it to taxpayers.

The law was approved by what essentially was a party-line vote – two-thirds of the House (all Democrats) in favor, Republicans and one Democrat against.

Basically, the law plugs holes in the existing system by essentially requiring insurers to cover “reproductive health” services, including abortion, for everyone. To make sure immigrants who otherwise might not get such services are covered, it allocates about half a milion dollars over the next two years to expand free abortions to those who are otherwise ineligible, part of a $10 million fund dedicated to general reproductive health care for immigrants.

Not surprisingly, reaction to the new law has been widely split. It is being praised loudly by a wide range of pro-choice organizations, some of which had a direct role in its development.

Those opposed to abortion are bemoaning its passage, noting that Oregon taxpayers already were covering 50 percent of abortions in this state.

Threre are a lot of issues here – moral, economic,

Some have pointed out that the passage of this law is reallly an in-your-face form of resistance to the Trump Administration.

It’s not hard to understand why many of Oregon’s leaders want to distance themselves from our president.

Frankly, we’re not impressed, either, with a lot of what we’ve seen from Washington.

The shoot-from-the-hit approach to solving some of the problems that have gotten President Trump elected have left us wondering about the depth of experience and consideration behind some of these moves – particularly those dealing with immigration and health care. They may serve to give an emotional boost to people sick of overreaches by the federal government, but many problems simply cannot be solved overnight – or with bluster.

But Oregon leaders’ flag-plants-in-the-sand on issues like sanctuary cities and now this may not contribute to the state’s well-being, whether or not one agrees with the moral presuppositions behind the policies we’ve adopted or not.

Opponents to the law have raised concerns that its passage is endangering “billions” in federal funding because they say HB 3391 violates the federal Weldon Amendment, enacted in 2004 to protect the conscience rights of health care providers who do not want to participate in certain services that go against their convictions and values.

Federal funds through the Health and Human Services appropriations could be cut off from any agency, program, or state or local government that discriminates against these health care providers.

Granted, we live in a democratic state whose policies are dominated by urban politics, which means rural values and needs often get out-voted. But even so, putting up resistance to the federal government on issues that could cost us financially, to make a point that runs diametrically contrary to many state resicdents’ views on this abortion question, is simply irresponsible.

Moral objections aside – and there are plenty of those as well, it’s not reassuring to see our governor and Democratic legislators, who have yet to solve Oregon’s significant financial issues, planting a flag on an issue that will only further divide our state – and possibly end up costing us more than we can afford.