Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Tuesday signed what activists describe as the most far-reaching law in the land to solidify access to abortion and subsidized birth control, bucking efforts in Washington to limit reproductive health coverage.
The Reproductive Health Equity Act requires insurers to cover abortions at no cost to the patient, enshrining the right to abortion in Oregon even if Roe v Wade is overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court. The statute also includes the whole gamut of reproductive care, from contraception and vasectomies to STD screenings and post-natal care. The law covers all patients, regardless of gender, gender identity or immigration status -- that includes undocumented immigrants.Abortion rights activists have been scrambling to pass state laws ensuring coverage for birth control and access to abortion. Many of the efforts have come after the Trump administration and GOP-controlled Congress have threatened to cut funding to Planned Parenthood and to remove birth control as an “essential health benefit” that must be covered.
But while other states have made piecemeal changes, such as expanding the birth control mandate under the Affordable Care Act or allowing doctors to prescribe a year’s worth of birth control pills at a time, Oregon has gone the furthest in its law.
“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,” Laurel Swerdlow, Advocacy Director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said in a statement. “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.”
Oregon’s right-to-life activists were appalled at the legislation, which they say will make women and girls more likely to have abortions because there will be no financial barrier slowing down their decision processes.
“There are many things that make Oregon a wonderful state. Unfortunately, HB 3391 is not one of them,” Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, said in a statement after Brown, as expected, signed the bill. “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.”