Oregon Gov. Kate Brown held a signing ceremony Monday to commemorate a new law making abortion free for everyone in the state, including illegal immigrants.
The event was attended by members of the state legislature and pro-choice advocates, who regularly broke into rousing cheers and applause to celebrate the enactment of the Reproductive Health Equity Act.
“To lead productive and thriving lives, Oregonians must have the ability to control their bodies and make informed decisions about their health care,” Ms. Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement. “I am proud to sign legislation that expands access to basic reproductive health services for all Oregonians regardless of where they live, where they come from, or how they identify as a person.”
Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for the Oregon Senate Republicans, said celebrating abortion may be macabre, but it’s not surprising given that Ms. Brown was an abortion rights lobbyist before entering public life.
“Gov. Brown celebrating abortion and averting moderation is nothing new,” Mr. Lockwood said.
Ms. Brown officially signed HB 3391 on Aug. 15. The $10.2 million legislation allocates $500,000 to pay for abortions for women who would otherwise be eligible for the state’s Medicaid program, if it weren’t for their immigration status.
State Rep. Jeff Barker, a Democrat and chief sponsor of the legislation, said the law “ensures Oregonians can use these health care services when they need them, regardless of their economic status, their gender identity or their citizen status.”
“Oregon has a long history of defending reproductive freedom,” Mr. Barker said, “but rights don’t matter if you can’t afford access to them.”
He also read a postcard that he said was from his daughter thanking him for standing up for women’s reproductive health.
“It says, ‘Dad, thanks for being a sponsor of HB 3391. As your daughter, it means a lot to me that you take women’s health care so seriously,’” Mr. Barker read, drawing appreciative noises from the audience. “‘I love you. Thanks. Your daughter, Heather.’”
The first-of-its-kind law went into effect immediately after it was signed and requires Oregon insurers to provide 100 percent of the cost of abortions without co-pays or deductibles.
Qualifying state residents covered by Providence Health Care, a nonprofit Catholic insurance company that does not provide abortions, will be reimbursed for the procedure by the state.
Linda Roman, director of health policy and government relations of Oregon Latino Health Coalition, said the abortion law is a “validation of humanity in every Oregonian.”
“At the heart of the Reproductive Health Equity Act was always the deep belief that no one should be denied health care just because they are low income, people of color, transgender or undocumented,” Ms. Roman said at the signing ceremony.