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Oregon Becomes the First State to Make Abortion Accessible to All Women

Oregon just passed a law requiring insurance providers cover the full cost of abortion with no exceptions. The landmark move ensures that all Oregonians—documented or not—have full access to reproductive health care for the first time in history.

by Leila Ettachfini
Aug 16 2017, 6:40pm

Under a landmark new health care law, women in Oregon will be able to access all reproductive health services—including abortion—at no personal cost. On Tuesday, Governor Kate Brown signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act (HB 3391) into law, effectively requiring all insurance companies to cover abortion for Oregon citizens and undocumented residents alike. HB 3391 also allocates tax money to provide reproductive health care to those who are uninsured.

The bill was introduced earlier this year as a direct response to the Trump administration's attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. By design, it ensures that abortion and other reproductive health services will remain both legal and affordable in the state of Oregon, even if the ACA or Roe v. Wade were overturned. The law also addresses high deductibles and existing loopholes in the ACA that prevent full access to reproductive health care.

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The Reproductive Health Equity Act is effective immediately and extends beyond abortion: birth control, STI and pregnancy testing, voluntary sterilization, postpartum care, and a long list of other reproductive health care–related drugs, devices, and services will be available at no additional cost to the patient. Vasectomies are also covered under the new legislation. Governor Brown has set aside a $10.2 million fund, which will cover these services for uninsured residents through 2019.

The initial bill was developed by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon, which consists of members from the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and various other organizations. In a press release on Tuesday, the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon thanked Governor Brown for signing "the first legislation in the United States to comprehensively address systemic barriers to accessing reproductive health care." Additionally, they pointed out the importance of a reproductive health care law that does not discriminate against citizenship status and "stand[s] up to the Trump administration and congressional Republicans."

"Our members in Oregon know that without abortion access, women cannot be truly equal partners in society," said Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "That's why they've been rallying in support of this historic legislation."

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HB 3391—which has been hailed as the "most progressive abortion legislation in history"—was passed during an otherwise dismal period for reproductive health access in American history. On the same day that the Reproductive Health Equity Act became law in Oregon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law prohibiting all insurance companies in the state from covering abortion except in life-threatening cases, forcing women to purchase outside coverage for abortion care—even in instances of rape or incest.

"Individual rights and freedom go to the heart of who we are as Oregonians," said Kimberly McCullough, the legislative director for ACLU of Oregon. "The vast majority of Oregonians support access to safe and legal abortion, which is now safeguarded by the Reproductive Health Equity Act."