Oregon lawmakers consider bill that would expand reproductive care

Women's Resource Center, Mar. 16th 2017, (KTVL/Megan Allison)

ASHLAND, Ore. -- House Bill 3391 would require health care providers to cover the costs of drugs and services related to reproductive health.

This includes birth control, vasectomies, and abortion. The bill would assure access to these services without government interference. Medical director Jim Shames with Jackson County Health hopes this could help minority women, are three times more likely to die in childbirth.

"Part of access to this type of care is to work on eliminating those disparities so we can all have equal opportunities to be healthy and raise healthy children," Shames said.

The bill would also establish coverage for those excluded from health programs due to citizenship status. Shames said in Jackson County there's value to more people having access to testing.

"We have a remarkable increase in gonorrhea syphillis here in Jackson County. And women are at the disadvantage of not always knowing they have those diseases," Shames said.

The chief executive of Providence Health Plans has spoken out against the bill, saying their services emphasize respect for the sanctity of life and therefore are not permitted to provide or cooperate with abortion services. The women's resources center said the bill could reduce abortions.

"Fewer people are accessing abortions in the United States currently and I believe that has to do with comprehensive sexuality education as well as predominantly I believe it has to do with access to birth control and reproductive health care," Riah Safady said.

The Department of Business and Consumer Services has also spoken out against the bill, saying it could adversely affect the allocation of federal funds to the state.

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