If you weren't paying attention on Wednesday, you might not have heard anything about the quiet triumph of the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which would require insurance companies to cover abortion as well as a host of reproductive health care services. It's now passed both chambers and awaits Gov. Kate Brown's signature.
I wrote about the bill back in March when it was introduced. Here's what it does:
HB 2232 would ensure “that Oregonians receive the full range of preventive reproductive health services at zero out-of-pocket cost.” It also includes access provisions for undocumented women and anti-discrimination protections for transgender Oregonians—inclusions that, while unique in a reproductive health bill, make sense given the Trump administration’s recent decision to revoke protections for transgender students (and its emphasis on deporting undocumented immigrants).
The news since been picked up by national news outlets, so why didn't we write as much about it here? In my case, the answer is simple: It's such a progressive bill that I didn't plan for it to pass. It's a very big deal that it did.
Most of the coverage you've seen of the bill has probably focused on its abortion provision, and there's a reason for that: Oregon actually has passed bills expanding access to birth control, but protections for abortion can be a hard sell even in the bluest states. Consider Washington state, where lawmakers have expanded access to birth control for low-income women, but haven't yet managed to pass a bill similar to Oregon's law called the Reproductive Health Act. It's huge that our abortion coverage bill made it, and a critical counterpoint to the states who are currently doing everything they can to prevent women from accessing a very common, safe form of health care.
The protections for birth control coverage are also huge given that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has said he wants to "reexamine" the Affordable Care Act's inclusion of birth control services as an essential health benefit.
Also notable: This bill is a step above even laws like New York's, which make abortion procedures available without a cost to the patient. Our law is more permissive, which is as it should be.
Here's hoping that other states will start considering enshrining abortion coverage into law. In the meantime,
not everybody is happy! Please enjoy the angry GOP section of ABC's coverage:
The Republican minority in the Oregon Legislature was angered by passage of the bill.
"We are both a sanctuary state for illegal aliens, and we are a sanctuary state for federally illegal, taxpayer subsidized abortion," said Sen. Dennis Linthicum. "We should not be showering politically well-connected abortion clinics with political gift cards under the guise of 'equity,' that is totally discreditable."
Taxpayer-subsidized abortion? I like the sound of that.