Oregon's Senate Passes Landmark Bill Safeguarding Abortion Access
On Wednesday, state senators in Oregon passed a bill that would protect abortion access for women in a big way. House Bill 3391 would require insurance companies to cover reproductive health services like abortion, effectively giving women in Oregon legal access to abortion even if Roe v. Wade were overturned. After its approval in the state senate on Wednesday, the bill is heading to Gov. Kate Brown's desk.
According to the Associated Press, House Bill 3391 would require insurance companies to cover certain reproductive health care services, including abortions, for all individuals, regardless of gender, citizenship status, or income. As a result, undocumented immigrants would also have access to such services in Oregon. The Huffington Post reported that the bill would also require insurance companies to cover vasectomies.
The bill, which is expected to receive approval from the Oregon governor, strengthens reproductive freedom for women in the state. If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, women in Oregon could still have access to abortions, as overturning Oregon's bill would then require further judicial or legislative action. Oregon lawmakers did reportedly include an exception for religious objections, but they also included funding for the state to step in and provide coverage in those instances.
In response to Wednesday's vote, the ACLU of Oregon and other groups celebrated House Bill 3391's success:
At the same time, critics of Oregon's bill also spoke out on social media. For instance, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tweeted on Thursday that she had "no words" for the bill's passage a day earlier.
If Brown does, indeed, sign the bill into law, Oregon's newest law would be a long time coming. The bill was introduced to the state's House of Representatives back in March, reportedly in response to the Republican health care reform plan that was progressing at the federal level. The GOP's American Health Care Act failed in March, only to pass in May. Although senators have not passed their own healthcare bill yet, Oregon's lawmakers continue to prepare their residents for the potential impacts. According to the AP, Oregon representatives were committed to furthering House Bill 3391 regardless of health care reform's status at the federal level.
In addition to covering abortions and vasectomies, insurance companies under House Bill 3391 would also have to cover birth control, prenatal and postpartum care, cervical cancer screenings, breast cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, and counseling for abuse victims. The bill provides $10 million in funding, in part to provide services to low-income residents. Ultimately, the bill would provide universal access within Oregon to such services, even if those services aren't universally supported.