BEND, Ore. - Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday signed into law what proponents called America's most progressive reproductive health policy, expanding coverage on abortions and other reproductive services to thousands of Oregonians regardless of income, citizenship status or gender identity.
The Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon said it is the first legislation in the United States to comprehensively address systemic barriers to accessing reproductive health care. Opponents have noted that this will force taxpayers, even those who object morally to abortions, to assume some of the costs. Others oppose the law for moral reasons.
"Abortion is intrinsically evil," St. Francis Catholic Church Pastor Jose Mudakodiyil said.
Oregon's legislation was introduced largely in response to Republican congressional attempts to repeal former President Barack Obama's health care law, which includes minimum coverage requirements for reproductive services.
The law allocates almost $500,000 over the next two years to expand cost-free reproductive care to immigrants who are otherwise ineligible. But there is still more work to be done for all immigrants to be covered. Immigrants are still left out of many of the Affordable Care Act's benefits, and there might not be much help coming.
"There have been a few bills proposed, but nothing has really made it very far to expand coverage to include immigrants," Volunteers in Medicine Director Kat Mastrangelo said.
The new law is the topic of our new KTVZ.COM Poll, halfway down the right side of the home page.
Here's the full statements issued by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon and Oregon Right to Life:
PRO-CHOICE COALITION OF OREGON PRESS RELEASE
Governor Kate Brown today signed the nation's most progressive reproductive health policy into law. The Reproductive Health Equity Act (House Bill 3391) is the first legislation in the United States to comprehensively address systemic barriers to accessing reproductive health care, expanding coverage to thousands of Oregonians throughout the state - regardless of income, citizenship status or gender identity.
Developed by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon with input from legislative champions, the new law makes Oregon the first state to establish comprehensive, state-funded reproductive health coverage for women categorically excluded from Medicaid based on citizenship status; the first to codify no-cost abortion coverage in state statute; and the first to stand up to the Trump administration and congressional Republicans by putting the entire list of women's health services covered without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act into state statute. The legislation also bans discrimination against those who identify as transgender or gender-nonconforming so that all people who can become pregnant have access to reproductive health care.
The Reproductive Health Equity Act, which goes into effect immediately, will significantly benefit thousands of Oregonians:
900,000: Oregonians covered by private insurance who now have expanded reproductive health coverage.
360,000: Oregon women who now have protected access to copay-free preventive healthcare services under the Affordable Care Act.
48,000: Low-income mothers in Oregon whose coverage now extends past delivery to include follow-up visits during the postpartum period.
43,000: Oregon women of reproductive age with high-deductible policies who now have abortion coverage at no out-of-pocket cost.
18,600: Oregon women of reproductive age whose insurance plans now cannot charge them a co-pay or other out-of-pocket costs for preventive health services, including contraception.
Laurel Swerdlow, Advocacy Director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said: "We are so grateful for the bold leadership of Governor Brown and legislative champions who understand that Oregonians don't want reproductive health care attacked. Women, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, people of color, immigrants and people of faith are not going to silently stand around while politicians in Washington D.C. try to take away our health care."
Amy Casso, Gender Justice Program Director for Western States Center, said: "This is an amazing victory, and it's all the more significant given the current political landscape. In the face of relentless rollbacks and attacks at the federal level, Oregonians are showing the rest of the country what it means to be resilient and visionary. This groundbreaking legislation is the result of a forward-thinking, inclusive campaign that uplifted the leadership of people of color. There is still work to be done, but today we celebrate that more Oregonians have the freedom to decide if and when they have children based on what's best for them and their family's circumstances."
Kimberly McCullough, Legislative Director for American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said: "Individual rights and freedom go to the heart of who we are as Oregonians, including the right to access safe and legal abortion. For too many Oregonians today, those legal rights do not translate into access, especially for young people, people of color, rural people, people with low incomes, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people. The vast majority of Oregonians support access to safe and legal abortion, which is now safeguarded by the Reproductive Health Equity Act."
Reproductive Health Equity Act summary: https://reprohealthequity.org/about/about-the-bill/
Reproductive Health Equity Act fact sheet: https://reprohealthequity.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/hb-3391-fact-sheet.pdf
Reproductive Health Equity Act stories from impacted Oregonians: https://reprohealthequity.org/stories/
OREGON RIGHT TO LIFE PRESS RELEASE:
Today Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 3391 into law, solidifying Oregon’s status as the most radically pro-abortion state in America. Abortions must now be covered 100 percent by all insurance policies, without a copay or deductible. HB 3391 also establishes a $10 million fund for illegal immigrants’ reproductive “care,” of which $500 thousand is estimated to be spent covering abortions. In addition, by passing HB 3391, Gov. Brown and Oregon Democrats are endangering billions in federal funding because HB 3391 violates the federal Weldon Amendment.
“There are many things that make Oregon a wonderful state. Unfortunately, HB 3391 is not one of them,” said Gayle Atteberry, ORTL executive director. “Today Gov. Brown demonstrated her extreme bias in favor of the abortion rights lobby, disregarding thousands of future Oregonians whose lives have been further endangered by making their elimination 100 percent expense-free.”
For policy holders of Providence Health Plan, the only company in Oregon with plans not covering elective abortion, abortion expenses can be fully reimbursed by the Oregon Health Plan.
“Oregon taxpayers already cover nearly 50 percent of all abortions in the state whether they like it or not,” said Atteberry. “By making abortion free, this percentage will inevitably increase. We also expect more late-term abortions, which are currently very expensive as well as risky to perform. All completely covered by either insurance companies or by the Oregon taxpayers.”
Oregon Right to Life will continue its successful work in educating Oregonians about abortion, fetal development, and other pro-life issues, work that has contributed to Oregon's 40 percent drop in abortions. ORTL will also continue working to increase awareness and support of life-affirming alternatives to abortion.