The decision of whether or not to become a parent is one of the most important choices you’ll ever make. Only you can decide if you’re ready to have a miniature carbon-copy of yourself hanging around 24/7—one who will melt your heart with the request for a hug and five minutes later have you cursing when they kick you in the shins.
And, understandably, some people will decide the whole parenthood thing just isn't for them—which is totally cool, despite the fact that recent research found that some people are “morally outraged” at such a decision. That’s why it’s so important for women to be able to access the full spectrum of reproductive health services—from contraception and post-partum care to, yes, abortion.
Earlier this month, Oregon achieved something many women’s rights advocates across the country have only dreamed of: The state legislature passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which guarantees that basic reproductive health services are covered (for ALL) by insurance plans, regardless of income, citizenship status, or gender identity or expression. That means about 48,000 Oregonians now have access to postpartum care when they didn’t before, and more than 18,600 no longer have to pay out of pocket for preventative services.
Additionally, the legislation, which awaits Gov. Kate Brown’s signature (she's a Dem, and has a track record for supporting reproductive rights, so it's likely she'll sign the bill) safeguards the right to abortion if Roe v. Wade were ever to be overturned, and makes the procedure more affordable and accessible for women. Oregon is the second state after California to require private insurers offer abortion coverage.
“As states across the country are stripping women of reproductive health services and coverage, Oregon is leading the way in not only protecting the right to legal abortion but in expanding coverage to ensure that no one is denied access to vital reproductive health services, from contraception to postpartum care,” Grayson Dempsey, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, said in a statement.
Amy Casso, Gender Justice Program Director of Western States Center, explains what it took to get to this moment: “Originally, in 2015, we started this process with a piece of legislation that actually died because fear, shame, and stigma around abortion is real. Even elected officials in a blue state like Oregon were fearful of taking a vote on abortion. After doing intentional work around shifting the narrative of what it means to be talking about reproductive health rights, we were able to actually build a comprehensive and inclusive piece of legislation.”
A big part of shifting the narrative, Casso explains, was to highlight how important postpartum care is, and the gaps in the law that left people without access to it. Too often, people think about reproductive rights involving the decision over whether or not to start a family—but another important piece of that conversation is what kind of support is available once a person does decide to have a child. Without adequate access to postpartum care, not only is the mother at risk, Casso says, but so is the well-being and security of the entire family.
Often, policy changes happen slowly, Casso says, but because of the current political climate we live in, she believes it’s time to “step up and fight for our values and the kind of world we want to live in...When you take time to challenge [the status quo] and align in solidarity, you can actually build things that are really constructive and transformative.”
“For us,” she continues, “this win in particular is a win for resistance around the national landscape that is really trying to regulate our bodies.” In an atmosphere and administration that oftentimes feels overwhelmingly anti-women, it's refreshing to hear some positive news for once, even if the battle is far from won.