As the Trump administration and congressional Republicans wage a campaign to eradicate no-cost birth control coverage and health care for millions, Oregon is moving in the opposite direction with sweeping reproductive health-care legislation.
A bill heading to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown enshrines the protections of Roe v. Wade into statute, saying the government has no right to interfere in the decision to end a pregnancy. Provisions in the Democratic-backed bill mirror the Affordable Care Act—which congressional Republicans are pushing to repeal—by requiring health plans in the state to offer a full spectrum of reproductive health services, including abortion care and contraceptives, without a co-pay.
Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act bars health-care discrimination based on gender identity, clearing access to reproductive care for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
“As states across the country are stripping women of reproductive health services and coverage, Oregon is leading the way in not only protecting the right to legal abortion but in expanding coverage to ensure that no one is denied access to vital reproductive health services, from contraception to postpartum care,” Grayson Dempsey, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, said in a statement.
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Oregon joins California in requiring private insurance plans to cover all abortion care, as the Oregonian reported. The Oregon bill carves out an exemption for health plans sold to religious employers.
Financial means shouldn’t stop someone from accessing the health care they need, said one of the bill’s chief sponsors.
“I have seen the difference between what a poor woman can get and one that has financial means to get birth control and health services,” said state Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Portland).
An estimated 43,000 Oregon women with high-deductible policies will benefit from the abortion provisions, and more than 18,600 Oregon women are expected to benefit from the no-co-pay provisions on birth control and other preventive care, advocates said. The measure extends postpartum care coverage to about 48,000 Oregonians of reproductive age.
Twenty-two states could outlaw abortion immediately if Roe v. Wade were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Oregon is considered among the 17 states that would likely protect abortion access. The new bill makes Oregon even more of a reproductive rights stronghold.
“Oregon’s success represents a formidable and proactive resistance to Trump’s agenda to shame, bully, and punish women who decide to have an abortion, and to state lawmakers who’ve passed hundreds of new restrictions on abortion in recent years,” Destiny Lopez, co-director of All* Above All, said in a statement.