Health care, including reproductive care, is a basic human right. No one should be denied coverage or access to the full range of prenatal and postpartum care to ensure their own and their children’s health and safety.
That’s why now is the time to pass House Bill 3391 -- the Reproductive Health Equity Act -- for Oregonians. HB 3391 provides crucial care to improve the health of women and families across Oregon, through the provision of comprehensive reproductive health care and access to safe, legal abortion and no-cost contraception. With the passage of HB 3391, Oregon will broaden the scope of individuals who are guaranteed access to care, regardless of gender identity, citizenship status or any possible federal rollbacks.
HB 3391 benefits not just women, but people of all gender identities. While Oregon is on the forefront of LGBTQ equality nationally, transgender Oregonians continue to face discrimination when accessing health care at the state and local levels. This bill will specifically help transgender and gender-nonconforming Oregonians who need access to services often categorized as “women’s” health care, by separating care from one’s gender marker.
By passing HB 3391, Oregon will also extend postpartum care to women regardless of citizenship status. Though children born in the United States are covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program until they are 18, their moms may not be, since undocumented mothers in the United States are not given a comparable post-birth health care option. This means that many women do not receive the appropriate check-ups after delivery, nor do they receive the option to access long-acting reversible contraceptives after labor -- at a time when many women need it.
In many cases, a once-yearly pap smear or birth control refill is the only time an otherwise healthy person will visit a doctor. These visits, however, provide important and timely preventive services that can increase early identification of serious health issues. In some cases, this basic reproductive health appointment helps patients make other informed decisions on mental health, physical activity and relationship safety check-ins.
There is no better time for the Oregon Legislature to pass HB 3391, and we cannot afford to wait. HB 3391 will ensure access to this basic human necessity, even as the federal government threatens to strip access to basic reproductive health services. While being a woman may be seen as a pre-existing condition on the national level, it does not have to be that way in Oregon. We are not pre-existing conditions -- we are mothers, daughters, sisters, citizens and stateswomen, and we deserve access to care that suits our bodies.
The Oregon Women’s Health and Wellness Alliance (OWHWA) is a group of legislators, health care personnel, state and local agency staff and citizen advocates, who are dedicated to promoting the health, safety and economic well-being of women. The co-chairs are Senators Kathleen Taylor and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, and Representatives Alissa Keny-Guyer and Karin Power.