Oregon's 'Reproductive Health Equity Act' Passes House And Senate

SALEM, OR — Oregon's so-called "Reproductive Health Equity Act" now rests in the hands of Gov. Kate Brown.

After passing both the state's House of Representatives and Senate, House Bill 3391 appears likely to soon become Oregon law — giving Oregonians the right choose whether to become parents "regardless of income, type of insurance, citizenship status or gender identity," according to officials with the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon.

Officially, the bill allows for safe and legal abortion services at no cost to patients in Oregon, requires all insurers to cover contraception, and guarantees full range reproductive health coverage, including postpartum care, for all women, including those who may have previously been denied such coverage due to citizenship status.

While the bill does allow an exemption for plans sold to religious employers, it requires the Oregon Health Authority — the state's governing body for all things health-related in Oregon — to implement a program that would effectively "reimburse costs of services, drugs, devices, products and procedures related to reproductive health provided to individuals who can become pregnant and who would be eligible for medical assistance if not for certain federal requirements," according to the state's official definition.

The bill, Pro-Choice Coalition advocates said, will act as a safety net for Oregonians should the Federal Government choose to overturn Roe v. Wade or the Affordable Care Act, or regardless of whether certain insurance companies previously used loop holes to get around covering people after giving birth or providing affordable contraception.

"Oregonians need quality medical care to prevent problems before they start, which results in stronger health outcomes, lower healthcare costs and a stronger economy," Pro-Choice Coalition officials said in a statement. "Limitations on reproductive health services can have profoundly harmful effects on public health, disproportionately impacting low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, young women, rural women, survivors of domestic violence, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people."

With Brown's signature, Oregon will become the first state to mandate coverage of abortion services at no cost to patients.

According to HuffPost reporter Catherine Pearson, a handful of states also require the delivery of certain services related abortion and birth control, but none of made it a state statute as Oregon has.

"California already requires all insurance policies in its small group and individual markets to cover abortion," Pearson reported. "Massachusetts specifies that insurers must cover abortions that are medically necessary, while New York has tried to nudge insurers into covering the procedure by adding it to its model plan of what they should cover."

Nevertheless, it's a monumental, groundbreaking step in Oregon, which has historically remained progressive in its health care reforms.

"This legislation clearly proclaims Oregon's commitment to equity," Kimberly McCullough, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said in a March statement. "Oregonians have consistently elected leaders who understand that you can't have equity or choice without access. Even as politicians across the country take aim at reproductive freedom, House Bill 3391 will affirm the right to safe, legal abortion in Oregon, and will give everyone who calls Oregon home the health care they need to create and take care of their families when and as they choose."

Image: GabiSanda via Pixabay.com

Source : https://patch.com/oregon/portland/oregons-reproductive-health-equity-act-passes-house-senate

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