Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) on Tuesday signed into law what advocates called the nation’s most progressive reproductive health policy, expanding access to abortion and birth control at a time when the Trump administration and other states are trying to restrict them.
Called the Reproductive Health Equity Act, the measure requires health insurers to provide birth control and abortion without charging a co-pay. It also dedicates state funds to provide reproductive health care to noncitizens excluded from Medicaid.
Antiabortion groups swiftly condemned the new law, saying it will force taxpayers to foot the bill for a procedure many consider to be a form of murder, and that it cements Oregon’s status as the most liberal state when it comes to abortion.
“Today Gov. Brown demonstrated her extreme bias in favor of the abortion rights lobby, disregarding thousands of future Oregonians whose lives have been further endangered by making their elimination 100 percent expense-free,” Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, said in a statement.
Abortion rights groups praised the measure as a bulwark against an erosion of reproductive rights under Republican leadership in Washington and elsewhere.
The Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon, which helped write the law, said it will benefit hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, not only by increasing access to abortion but also birth control and postpartum care for low-income women.
“In the face of relentless rollbacks and attacks at the federal level, Oregonians are showing the rest of the country what it means to be resilient and visionary,” Amy Casso, director of the Gender Justice Program at Western States Center, said in a statement. “There is still work to be done, but today we celebrate that more Oregonians have the freedom to decide if and when they have children based on what’s best for them and their family’s circumstances.”
The Trump administration has moved to scale back a federal mandate, under the Affordable Care Act, requiring that employers provide no-cost birth control as part of their insurance plans. It also has sought to eliminate taxpayer money from flowing to Planned Parenthood, a prominent women’s health organization that provides abortions.
The moves follow efforts in two dozen states, most of them led by Republicans, to restrict access to abortion in recent years by imposing strict new regulations on the procedure and on those who provide it.
In an indication that there is still momentum in red states to further constrain abortion access, also on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill banning insurance companies from covering abortion as part of their standard health insurance plans. Women in the state would have to pay a separate premium to have abortion coverage.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported Amy Casso’s affiliations. She is not with Planned Parenthood. The article has been updated.