PRO-CHOICE COALITION OF OREGON PRESS RELEASE
SALEM, Ore., April 14, 2017 - The Oregon House Healthcare Committee today passed landmark legislation to ensure reproductive health equity across the state.
The Reproductive Health Equity Act (House Bill 3391) removes financial barriers and ensures that every Oregonian is empowered to make their own decisions about whether and when to become a parent. Limitations on reproductive health services can have profoundly harmful effects on public health and on an individual person's life opportunities. Particularly at risk are those who already face significant barriers to receiving high-quality care, such as low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, young women, survivors of domestic violence, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
House Bill 3391 is sponsored by 21 State Representatives and 10 State Senators. The bill has been developed over the past two years by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon with input from community leaders around Oregon and legislators.
"Working families are under so much strain today and often have a hard time making ends meet," Andrea Paluso, Executive Director for Family Forward Oregon. "Families in Oregon need support like paid time off from work to care for loved ones and access to affordable child care. It is also critical that they have access to affordable, essential reproductive health care, which this bill guarantees. We are thrilled that the House Healthcare Committee has advanced this urgent remedy."
This landmark legislation closes multiple gaps in reproductive health coverage:
* Requires all commercial plans to cover the entire cost of the full range of reproductive health services - including family planning, vasectomy and abortion - without deductible or co-pay by the patient.
* Establishes coverage for reproductive health care, especially postpartum care for new mothers for Oregonians who are categorically excluded from health programs due to citizenship status.
* Assures access without government interference to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion.
* Prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in reproductive health coverage.
# # #
The Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon is a diverse, statewide coalition that is working to create a world where access to reproductive health care doesn't depend on who you are, where you live or how much you earn - where every Oregonian who can become pregnant has the opportunity to choose their own path to a healthy and meaningful life. The coalition consists of American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Family Forward Oregon, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon and Western States Center.
Today, the Senate confirmed extreme Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell upended long-standing rules in order to do so. The move disregarded opposition from people across the country over Gorsuch's extreme judicial philosophy and dangerous record on reproductive health.
Statement from Mary Nolan, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon:
"Women marched en masse in January because they feared the worst. Today, those fears were confirmed. Neil Gorsuch's judicial philosophy and record leave no doubt that he will seek to restrict abortion and cut off access to birth control. Judge Gorsuch is so outside of the mainstream that they had to change the rules in order to jam through his confirmation. What is at stake is the basic right of women to access health care without interference from politicians. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon will never stop fighting for the 70,000 people in Oregon who count on us each year."
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
"Women of all backgrounds have been in the crosshairs of every policy this Congress has pushed - from undermining maternity care to attacking Planned Parenthood to forcing through the confirmation of Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch. There is a reason that women make up the core of the resistance. Too many people still face barriers to health care, especially young people, people of color, those who live in rural areas and people with low incomes. Women have made incredible gains, and we will not stand to see that progress walked back."
In every case related to reproductive rights that Gorsuch considered as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, he has ruled in a way that would have blocked women's access to reproductive health care. This includes:
* In Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert, Gorsuch went to extraordinary lengths to try to allow the state of Utah to block people from coming to Planned Parenthood for health care and education. Had this happened, it would have blocked thousands of Utahns from access to STI tests, sex education and other preventive care.
* Gorsuch ruled in favor of the idea that corporations are people and believes that bosses should be able to impede their employees' access to birth control. In fact, he wants to go even further than the Hobby Lobby decision in blocking employees' access to insurance coverage for birth control.
* Gorsuch has a troubling record of opposing LGBTQ rights and ruled against an incarcerated transgender woman seeking access to medically necessary hormone treatment in Druley v. Patton.
The U.S. Senate narrowly approved a measure yesterday that would overturn a rule to protect health care for more than 4 million people who rely on Title X, the nation's family planning program.
In a gross display of their disregard for women's health, Republican Senate leaders refused to even explain their support for the bill on the Senate floor, despite repeated demands from leaders like Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) resorted to bringing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote.
To be clear, this bill does not "defund" Planned Parenthood. However, this move could embolden states to block access to family planning healthcare providers across the board, both Planned Parenthood health centers and independent clinics.
Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
"A group of male politicians - led by Mike Pence - are once again trying to rip away women's access to birth control. There's a reason this measure barely passed: People are sick and tired of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and they will not stand for it. It's clear politicians in Congress will stop at nothing to claw back women's health and rights - and we'll need to fight back with everything we've got."
Statement from Mary Nolan, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon:
"Four million people depend on the Title X family planning program, and this move by Washington politicians would endanger their health and well-being. It is appalling that 24 hours earlier, Vice President Pence was headlining a forum on empowering women, then he turned around and led mostly male politicians to take away women's birth control. Too many people still face barriers to health care, especially young people, people of color, those who live in rural areas and people with low incomes. We will never stop fighting for the right of every person to access the care they need."
The current rule reinforces that it is against the law for state politicians to block people from accessing care at a health center of their choice because it also provides safe, legal abortion. These types of actions are already illegal, as a court in Florida found just this past summer. To date, every court to consider the issue on the merits has ruled that state politicians cannot block access to care at Planned Parenthood through the Title X family planning program.
When it was introduced by the Obama Administration last year, the rule garnered widespread support in the call for public comment, with 91 percent of the roughly 145,000 responses in favor of the rule.
Title X, the nation's family planning program, helps ensure that every person - regardless of where they live, how much money they make or whether they have health insurance - has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care. The rule ensures those most in need -- those who have very low incomes or lack health insurance -- still have access to lifesaving care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams.
People with low incomes and communities of color are two groups that have historically faced systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, are less likely to have health insurance and benefit most from these protections. In 2014, 14 percent of Planned Parenthood patients were black, and 23 percent were Latino/a. About 75 percent of Planned Parenthood patients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Background on Title X:
Simply put, Title X helps ensure more than 4 million people have health care in this country. The nation's family planning program offers preventive healthcare services to those most in need. This is the only way that millions of women who have low incomes or are uninsured have access to birth control, cancer screenings, STI tests and other basic care.
* About 85 percent of the people served by our nation's family planning program have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and 48 percent are uninsured.
* In 2015 alone, Title X provided nearly 800,000 Pap tests, breast exams to 1 million women, nearly 5 million tests for STIs and 1 million HIV tests.
* In fact, 6 in 10 women who access care from a family planning health center consider it their main source of health care. For 4 in 10, it's their only source of care.
* About 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients benefit from the nation's family planning program, 78 percent of whom live with incomes of 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less, the equivalent of $35,775 a year for a family of four in 2014. About 20 percent of these patients identify as Latino/a; and approximately 14 percent identify as black.