The 2017 Legislative Session, which ended on July 7, was exciting up until the very end and kept those of us working for #ReproHealthEquityNow on the edge of our seats until just two days before Sine Die! We are proud of the many advocates who championed important advances in reproductive and social justice this session, and while there is still a lot of unfinished work to be done in 2018, 2019 and beyond, there was also much to celebrate. Here are NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon’s highlights:
Our signature piece of legislation this session was the Reproductive Health Equity Act (HB 3391), which not only codifies the right to legal abortion in the state for the first time ever but also protects and expands the essential reproductive healthcare benefits of the ACA and ensures that equal coverage for contraception, abortion and postpartum care is available to every Oregonian despite their income, gender, or citizenship status. This bill was passed in the Senate on July 5th despite unanimous opposition from Republican legislators and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. We are grateful to our chief sponsors – Representatives Jennifer Williamson, Julie Fahey and Jeff Barker and Senators Richard Devlin and Laurie Monnes Anderson – as well as the 30 co-sponsors for their passionate work on behalf of this bill. Read more about the impact of this historic legislation in these pieces from Mother Jones, Refinery 29, and the New York Times.
NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon is honored to be part of the Fair Shot For All Coalition, whose policy priorities included RHEA as well as Cover All Kids (SB 558/HB 2726) and End Profiling (HB 2355), both of which successfully passed this session! Cover All Kids will expand coverage to more than 15,000 children in the state of Oregon and ensure that every child is on a path to success. End Profiling will start to change the culture of policing and make neighborhoods safer and communities stronger. Healthy kids and safe communities are essential elements of reproductive justice and we are proud to stand with the coalition that helped pass this important legislation.
In complement to RHEA, which created zero out-of-pocket coverage for men seeking vasectomy services, HB 2103 sought to address the shortage of clinicians providing vasectomies by permitting licensed Nurse Practitioners to perform the procedure (which was already determined to be within scope of practice). NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon was an enthusiastic endorser of this bill and was proud of the Oregon Nurses Association for their strong advocacy on its behalf. The Governor signed this bill into law on June 20, 2017.
We are proud to have endorsed the Equal Pay Act (HB 2005), which passed with bipartisan support and strengthened protections for workers. This legislation plays a critical part in ending pay discrimination for women, people of color, workers with a disability, LBGTQ workers and all other protected classes and we commend Oregon legislators for taking this step toward addressing economic inequality.
We stood with the Bus Project in endorsing SB 802, which lowers Oregon’s voter pre-registration age to 16. As a result of this bill, voters will be automatically pre-registered when they obtain their driver’s license at the DMV. As an organization that cares deeply about voter registration and civic engagement, we were thrilled to endorse this successful bill that will create thousands of more voters and engage even more young people in the political process.
Even though we live in a state with a pro-choice majority in Salem, we always see some anti-abortion legislation that we have to be sure doesn’t pass into law. The most egregious bill that we opposed this session was HB 2588/SB 541, which would ban “late term sex-selective” abortions in our state. This type of policy not only addresses an imaginary problem but is racist and misleading. While this bill was not passed, anti-choice Republicans made several references to “late term sex selective” abortions in their opposition to the Reproductive Health Equity Act, doubling down on their commitment to promoting racist stereotypes and medically and legally inaccurate facts about abortion. We will continue to fight against any legislation that seeks to criminalize abortion care and marginalize women of color, and hope that the Republican Party will work toward policies that have positive impact on access to reproductive healthcare rather than continue to promote legislation based on lies and stereotypes.
While there were a lot of victories this session, there is a lot of work still left to do. We were disappointed that the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Act failed to move forward due to the need for a super majority, but we are committed to increasing our efforts around this legislation and hope to see progress in 2018. Stable Homes for All (HB 2004), the final legislative priority for the Fair Shot for All Coalition, also died in the Senate without reaching the floor for a vote. We continue to stand united with our allies working for the economic and housing justice issues that allow individual families to thrive and hope to revisit this important issue in the future legislative sessions.