Legislation signed into law today in Oregon requires insurance companies to cover all reproductive healthcare costs and procedures—including abortion—regardless of the patient’s income, citizenship status or gender identity. In the midst of a political climate where the President has suggested “punishing” women who have abortions and Senate Republicans have proposed a ban on Planned Parenthood funding, the unprecedented Reproductive Health Equity Act guarantees Oregonians equitable and affordable access to critical reproductive health care.
“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,” Democratic Governor Kate Brown told iotwReport in an email. “Attempts to deny access to contraceptives and family planning are an attack on all Oregonians, particularly women of color, low-income and young women.”
The $10 million Reproductive Health Equity Act requires insurers to cover all costs of abortions and provides funds for all family planning services and pre- and post-natal care for low-income women. It also allocates nearly $500,000 to expand cost-free healthcare to immigrant women who are ineligible for the state’s own Medicaid program and closes some of the loopholes often overlooked when discussing access to reproductive healthcare—such as high premiums making the procedures unaffordable from the start, and trans or gender non-conforming people having restricted access to reproductive services. Although the bill does offer some religious based exemptions, most insurers are required to cover these services to all people without question and without cost.
The new law establishes Oregon as a leader in the arena of reproductive justice. Unlike similar laws in New York and other states around the country, the Reproductive Health Equity Act provides reproductive services no matter what the cause or reason behind a patient’s intention—including free and easy access to contraceptives, abortion, STI screenings, prenatal and postpartum care, vasectomies and counseling services for survivors of domestic or sexual abuse. The Act also safeguards against the slew of attacks being wrought on women’s health access and Medicaid by the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans who are intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act.
While many states are currently doing everything they can to chip away at abortion access, Oregon has set a high standard for other states intent on protecting women’s health and bodily autonomy to pursue.