FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 20, 2017
CONTACT: Christie Petrone
National Institute for Reproductive Health
State and Local Advocates Build Momentum for Abortion Coverage,in Defiance of Federal Attacks on Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice
Multnomah County, Ore. — The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has joined the growing number of localities recognizing the importance of access to affordable abortion care, with the introduction and passage of a proclamation on April 20.
The proclamation calls on Congress to support policies that reaffirm the right of all people to make decisions about their health care without governmental interference, and support comprehensive health coverage and funding for all reproductive health care services.
“Inequalities in access to reproductive care disproportionately affect women of color, and women in the immigrant and refugee communities,” said Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, co-sponsor of the proclamation. “When women of color are already facing multiple intersecting oppressions, access to these basic health care services should be the last thing in the way of achieving economic security and success.”
“Our communities see your support in this proclamation,” says We are BRAVE leader, Dr. Zeenia Junkeer. “We look to your leadership to actively fight for meaningful access to necessary services, and stand in solidarity to end the shame and stigma associated with abortion and other reproductive health services for all residents of Multnomah County.”
Multnomah County joins localities across the country demanding insurance coverage of abortion care as part of a broad, coordinated effort by the All* Above All coalition. Similar proclamations about lifting restrictions on abortion coverage and calling for the passage of the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act have passed in recent years in localities across the country, including Boston; Cambridge, Mass.; Cook County, Ill.; Ithaca, NY; Los Angeles; Madison, Wis.; New York; Philadelphia (Board of Health); Philadelphia (City Council); San Francisco; Seattle; and Travis County, Texas. The EACH Woman Act would ensure abortion access for every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government by prohibiting political interference in insurance coverage of abortion.
“The local organizations and leaders of color supporting this effort are thrilled to see Multnomah County join other areas of the country in fighting abortion stigma and affirming the importance of reproductive health access to all people,” said Kara Carmosino, program director with Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and We are BRAVE leader. “APANO sees this proclamation as a step forward toward all our families having the rights, recognition and resources they need to thrive.”
The Multnomah County proclamation dovetails with legislation pending in the state that would codify the right to safe and legal abortion in Oregon and establish comprehensive insurance coverage for the full spectrum of reproductive health services, including abortion. The Reproductive Health Equity Act (House Bill 3391), recently affirmed by a vote of the House Committee on Health Care, would fill gaps in reproductive health coverage for those categorically excluded from health programs due to citizenship status and ensure nondiscrimination protections in care based on gender identity and expression. The bill expands upon the benefits of the federal Affordable Care Act, to include abortion and vasectomy to the list of reproductive health services that commercial plans must cover.
Oregon is one of several states advancing legislation designed to protect and improve access to reproductive health care, regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C. Advocates across the country are pushing back on the regressive policies advanced by the Trump administration. In New York, the Reproductive Health Act, which passed the Assembly in January, also would codify in state law the protections of Roe v. Wade, safeguarding women’s rights in the instance that Roe is overturned and abortion access gets determined at the state level. Bills in Illinois and California introduced in 2017 also seek to expand public insurance coverage of abortion to ensure that residents in their state are not denied access to abortion just because of where they get their insurance.
For 40 years, politicians have used the Hyde Amendment to deny coverage for abortion care for those insured through Medicaid. Although Oregon provides Medicaid coverage of abortion, thousands of other women are excluded, including veterans who utilize the VA, Oregonians who work for the federal government, Peace Corps volunteers, federal prisoners, and beneficiaries of Indian Health Services.
“The Multnomah County proclamation gets us one step closer to realizing the full potential of the EACH Woman Act,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, which has supported similar efforts in a dozen localities through the All* Above All coalition. “The National Institute applauds the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners for joining the national movement to protect access to abortion for all women, regardless of how they are insured.”
The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) builds power at the state and local levels to change public policy, galvanize public support, and normalize women’s decisions about abortion and contraception.