PRO-CHOICE COALITION OF OREGON PRESS RELEASE
SALEM, Ore., March 15, 2017 -- Advocates for reproductive health care and reproductive justice applauded the Oregon House Healthcare Committee for advancing the Reproductive Health Equity Act (House Bill 3391) with a public hearing. The hearing will be held at 3pm today in Hearing Room E at the State Capitol.
House Bill 3391 is sponsored by 19 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 legislators and community leaders around Oregon.
The Reproductive Health Equity Act 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 a 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.
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 Oregonians who are categorically excluded from health programs due to citizenship status.
* Assures access without government interference to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion.
* Prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in reproductive health coverage.
"This legislation clearly proclaims Oregon's commitment to equity," says Kimberly McCullough, Legislative Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. "Oregonians have consistently elected leaders who understand that you can't have equity or choice without access. Even as politicians across the country take aim at reproductive freedom, House Bill 3391 will affirm the right to safe, legal abortion in Oregon, and will give everyone who calls Oregon home the health care they need to create and take care of their families when and as they choose."
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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.
One day after Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP leadership introduced legislation to block millions of people from birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, supporters in Oregon are fighting back.
Mary Nolan, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said:
"Oregonians are making their voices heard: We don't want reproductive health care attacked. We're standing together as women, people of color, immigrants and as people of faith, and we're fighting back to make sure that every single politician in Oregon knows that we will not stand for defunding Planned Parenthood. We're not going to silently stand around while politicians in Washington try to take away our health care."
Stacy Cross, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, said:
"The term 'defunding' is a misnomer. There is no blank check that Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government, and it's not in the budget. Instead, the legislation prevents millions of women who rely on Medicaid from accessing the healthcare provider they've been depending on for decades."
Lisa Gardner, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon, said:
"People don't come to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement. They come here for affordable, quality health care. In Oregon alone, Planned Parenthood health centers serve more than 60,000 women, men and young people. Without Planned Parenthood, these patients would be left with nowhere else to go. Our supporters aren't going to let that happen."
New polling shows that voters overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood. About 62% of voters are opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood, while only 31% of voters support it. And when those voters are informed what "defunding" Planned Parenthood actually means, only 12% of voters support defunding Planned Parenthood, according to Quinnipiac.
The Facts on Blocking Patients' Access to Planned Parenthood:
FACT: The term "defunding" Planned Parenthood is a misnomer. There is no blank check that Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government, and it's not a line item in the budget. Instead, this type of legislation would prevent millions of women who rely on Medicaid or other federal programs from accessing the healthcare provider they've been able to rely on for decades. Federal law already blocks federal funds from going to abortion services. This legislation instead blocks people from accessing cancer screenings, birth control, HIV and STI testing, and other preventive and essential care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
FACT: Blocking access to Planned Parenthood hurts people in communities who are struggling to get by the most - especially those with low incomes and those living in areas with no other quality healthcare providers. Communities of color, immigrant communities, rural areas, young people and the LGBTQ community, who already face structural barriers to accessing health care, are disproportionately impacted.
FACT: Other providers cannot just absorb Planned Parenthood's patient base if it is cut off from federal programs. Politicians who want to deny patients using Medicaid from going to Planned Parenthood often insist that other providers will fill the gap, but the experts at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Partnership for Women & Families said flat out: They can't. Even the executive director of the American Public Health Association has called such claims "ludicrous."
FACT: "Defunding" was a health disaster in Texas. Two Texas public health investigators just wrote in The Washington Post that when Texas passed legislation it was devastating - and shouldn't be repeated in the rest of the country. A significant number of women also lost or had reduced access to primary care providers as a consequence of blocking patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
FACT: When lawmakers in Louisiana, Ohio and Florida tried to block access to Planned Parenthood in the past, they suggested women could go to "alternative" providers for reproductive health care, including dentists; food banks; nursing and retirement homes; ear, nose and throat specialists; elementary schools; and rehab centers.
FACT: About 54% of Planned Parenthood health centers are in health professional shortage areas, rural or medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood health centers provide primary and preventive health care to many who otherwise would have nowhere to turn for care.
FACT: Although Planned Parenthood health centers comprised 10% of the country's safety net centers that offered family planning care in 2010, they served 36% of patients served by such centers. In 21% of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, Planned Parenthood is the only safety-net family planning provider. In 68% of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, Planned Parenthood serves at least half of all safety-net family planning patients.
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