Sydney Brownstone

While Republicans assembled a woefully inadequate plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week, Oregon has quietly joined a handful of states considering legislation that would preserve one key provision of the ACA no matter what happens nationally: access to reproductive healthcare, which the ACA expanded through its mandate that birth control be available to patients without a co-pay.

Last Tuesday, February 28, reproductive rights advocates rallied in Salem in support of the Reproductive Health Equity Act (House Bill 2232). According to a statement released ahead of the rally by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon, a broad association of local reproductive rights and racial justice groups, 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). As of press time, HB 2232 was still in committee and had not been scheduled for a hearing.

As Republicans hamper access to healthcare at the national level and state legislatures across the country consider laws restricting access to abortion, Oregon is one of a number of states fighting back. Others bucking the national trend of punitive anti-abortion measures with proactive policies include Illinois and Virginia—both considering legislation that would expand access to birth control or abortion—and New York, which has passed two bills ensuring that access to reproductive health care remains intact regardless of what happens to the ACA. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also mandated that insurers in the state cover birth control without a co-pay.