Oregon Governor Kate Brown is set to sign House Bill 3391, known as the “Reproductive Health Equity Act,” which would expand reproductive health care services, including abortion, to tens of thousands of women.
It would require insurance companies to cover reproductive care at no cost to the patient, including birth control, STD screenings, certain cancer screenings, vasectomies, abortions and postpartum care.
However, there is one exception.
Insurance companies that don’t currently offer any abortion services under any plan in 2017 would be exempt.
Advocates of the bill say there are tens of thousands of women in Oregon who don’t have this coverage right now and can’t afford to pay for it out-of-pocket.
They say this bill closes that critical gap, and establishes abortion and other reproductive services in Oregon no matter what happens with the Affordable Care Act or Roe v. Wade at the federal level.
One of the sponsors of the bill is Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) who is a practicing family doctor.
“All the things that are contained in this bill are important to women’s reproductive healthcare,” Sen. Steiner Hayward told FOX 12 Thursday. “It’s important to do cancer screenings, it’s important to provide contraception to all women, it’s important to have abortion as an option so that women have a chance to really choose when their pregnancies happen, and that every baby is a planned and wanted baby. Even good contraception can fail.”
While she understands that the abortion provision is highly controversial, she said she believes it’s a choice a woman, her family, her doctor and her clergy should make – not the government.
FOX 12 also reached out to Oregon Right to Life, a pro-life organization that is vehemently opposed to the bill.
“We’re totally against it because of the abortion component of it,” said Margot Loza, a spokesperson for Oregon Right to Life. “Abortion is taking away the innocent – an innocent human life, and this bill will inevitably increase abortions.”
According to Oregon Right to Life, half of abortions performed in Oregon are already funded by taxpayers. They worry this bill will expand procedures they consider morally reprehensible, including abortions in late term and for sex-selection.
In a press release, ORTL Executive Director Gayle Atteberry said the bill is “wrong on so many levels,” and referred to contentious debate about the abortion provision even on the Senate floor with many elected officials against it.
The bill sets aside $6 million for family planning services and $3 million for postpartum care.
Gov. Brown was not available for an interview with FOX 12 Thursday, but her office released this statement on her behalf:“The ability to control our bodies and make informed decisions about health are critical to providing all Oregonians the opportunity to achieve our full potential and live productive, thriving lives. Attempts to deny access to contraceptives and family planning are an attack on all Oregonians, particularly women of color, low-income and young women. I am pleased the Legislature passed HB 3391 to protect access to these fundamental services, and look forward to signing the bill into law.”Gov. Brown is expected to sign it into law within the next 30 days, and it is expected to go into effect on January 1.
To read the full text of the bill, or learn more about it, visit: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/HB3391.
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