Rights don’t matter if you can’t use them.

Restrictions on reproductive health care have real and disastrous consequences for all people. They often have a disproportionate effect on communities of color whose members already face systemic barriers in gaining access to high-quality health care.

While we’ve made some progress toward better health outcomes for people of color, we still have a long way to go. We must continue working to transform our world from one divided by disparities to a world united by health equity.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon believes that all women and their families deserve the highest quality of care, no matter who they are or where they live — no matter what. We are committed to breaking down barriers many face in obtaining access to health care. We fight to ensure that all people get the high-quality and affordable health care they need, regardless of race, income, geography, citizenship status or gender identity.

We know that we can improve the health of every person and every family in our community when we work together. That’s why Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon has joined forces with visionary legislative leaders and the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon to propose legislation that would help all Oregonians get the health care services they need.

The Reproductive Health Equity Act (House Bill 3393) is landmark legislation that will remove financial barriers and ensure that every Oregonian is empowered to make decisions about whether and when to become a parent. Here are just a few reasons why Oregonians need #ReproHealthEquityNow:

  • Low-income women need reproductive health equity.

Every day, Planned Parenthood health care providers hear from women who are forced to choose between groceries or filling their prescriptions — between paying the rent or choosing the form of birth control that’s right for them. Birth control can be expensive. Some of the most effective methods work for five years or more, but cost upward of $1,000 initially. Medical providers know that when women have access to the full range of contraception methods without cost barriers, we can actually reduce unintended pregnancy rates and the need for abortion.

  • Women of color need reproductive health equity.

Across the state, many people of color are deeply affected by the overwhelming lack of access to health care, yet they have some of the greatest needs for preventive services — like life-saving cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and Pap tests.

Latinas, Native Americans and African-Americans have higher rates of cervical cancer than other groups and are also more likely to die of the disease. African-American women have the highest incidence rate of breast cancer among women younger than 45, and are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women or Latinas.

  • Immigrant women need reproductive health equity.

Due to the many barriers in gaining access to basic health care and information, immigrants face challenging and life-endangering health care disparities. Many women in immigrant communities are more likely to die from breast and cervical cancers — all of which could be screened for, and in some cases prevented, with equal access to care.

  • Transgender Oregonians need reproductive health equity.

Like everyone else, transgender people have a fundamental need for high-quality health care and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. The unfortunate reality is that transgender people face unique challenges when it comes to getting the care they need. One national survey found that 19 percent of transgender people were refused medical care, with even higher numbers for people of color.

We know that when people are truly cared for, they make their lives, their families and their communities better and healthier.

Under the Reproductive Health Equity Act, all Oregonians will have access to the full range of reproductive health care, starting with preventive care and continuing through postpartum care.

Access to high-quality health care is a fundamental right for all people — and access to that right allows them to reach their fullest potential.


AuthorChristine Saunders