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Celebrating 10 Years of Contraceptive Equity in Oregon

Celebrating 10 Years of Contraceptive Equity in Oregon

by Governor Kate Brown

It was only 10 years ago today that Oregon finally guaranteed contraceptive equity for women.

On May 30, 2007, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act, requiring insurance companies to offer the same level of coverage for birth control as they do for other prescription drugs. It also required hospital emergency rooms to make emergency contraception available to survivors of sexual assault.

That day was the result of a long, hard-fought battle. Women of reproductive age at the time were paying an average of 68% more for out-of-pocket healthcare coverage than men. Nearly half of all indemnity health insurance plans provided no coverage for prescription birth control — even when there was coverage for other medications.

I worked closely with leaders from the Oregon Women’s Health and Wellness Alliance for nearly 15 years to convince legislators and the insurance industry that the ABC Act was a smart investment.

Birth control is without question important preventive health care for women. The ability to plan, prevent and space pregnancies is directly linked to benefits to women, their families and their ability to reach more educational and economic opportunities. For women who use the pill, it also helps treat other medical conditions and can reduce the likelihood of ovarian cancer by as much as 50%.

Today, thanks in part to access to birth control, women make up nearly half the workforce and more than half of college students. They’re in every major profession and job category in the United States — from the military and law enforcement, to medicine and law, to major corporations and sports.

While we celebrate this tremendous milestone, we have much more work to do. Not every birth control method is right for every woman, and we must keep working together to ensure that every Oregonian has full access to the birth control that works for them — without barriers based on cost, citizenship status, type of insurance, gender identity or stigma.

That’s why I have spoken out in support of the Reproductive Health Equity Act (House Bill 3391), which would fill key gaps in reproductive health coverage that disproportionately impact low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, young women, survivors of domestic violence, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Thousands of Oregonians and their families have benefited from the ABC Act over the past 10 years. There can be no turning back. Let’s continue fighting together and keep Oregon moving forward.

Posted on May 30, 2017 in News.
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