House passes Access to Birth Control legislation

From a statement by the House Democrats:

House Democrats today celebrated a long-fought, hard-won effort today to increase fairness in women’s health care by expanding access for Oregon women to prescription birth control and to guarantee victims of rape or incest access to emergency contraception. House Bill 2700, dubbed the “Access to Birth Control” bill, passed the Oregon House on a bipartisan vote. ...

Democrats said the bill is needed because nearly half of all health insurance plans still don’t provide cover contraceptives that are part of women’s basic health care, leaving many women to pay out of pocket for these prescriptions. More than half of the states in this country have already enacted contraceptive equity laws similar to HB 2700.

The vote was 49 to 9. Voting against:

Rep. Tom Butler, R-Ontario
Rep. John Dallum, R-The Dalles
Rep. Linda Flores, R-Clackamas
Rep. Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg
Rep. Jerry Krummel, R-Wilsonville
Rep. Donna Nelson, R-McMinnville
Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point
Rep. Wayne Scott, R-Canby
Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer

Initial Oregonian coverage here.

In another statement, Rep. Diane Rosenbaum pointed out:

The bill’s provisions mandating access to emergency contraception are particularly significant given that 1-in-6 American women is likely to be the victim of rape or attempted rape during her lifetime. Representative Rosenbaum asks “Do we want to force rape victims to wander around in the middle of the night looking for an open pharmacy, or do we want to meet their healthcare needs in the emergency room?”


  • Anonymous (unverified)

    Amazing how much actually gets done with the Ds in control in the legislature.

    Not so amazing that the 9 that voted against this have the proverbial "R" after their name. I am suprised to see that Karen Minnis was not among them, but I guess she has been reduced to the committee for "Clean Capital Bathrooms." and has her hands full with... well, crap.

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    Karen Minnis did not vote Yes either -- she was Excused. Apparently, she's been out with pneumonia for a week.

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    Let's also make one thing crystal clear: Those nine legislators voted to increase the number of abortions. Of course, they're not thinking that way - but that's the core logic of their vote.

    By voting against providing access to birth control, they are voting for unwanted pregnancies.

    Anybody who claims to be against abortions should be in favor of birth control. It really is that simple.

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    Flores, Nelson, Scott and Thatcher better watch their backs next year--this vote won't help them at all.

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    I too had expected to see Minnis' name on the list. I was hoping she's actually grown a backbone and voted for something good. I guess not.

    I moved into her district late last year and have yet to get a response from her office. I plan to continue to contact her (as well as my wonderful State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, whose office is quick to reply) in various ways -- e-mail, letter, and phone. We'll see if I ever get a response... even a canned response is better than none at all.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Torrid Joe- Add Dallum to your list. I was Jim Gilbertson's manager last year, and he won 49.5% of the vote against Dallum. Although Grant County is solidly conservative, the "big" counties, Wasco and Jefferson, are swing counties and the dist. is only narrowly R. Dallum talks like a moderate and even some Ds in the capitol say he is one of the one of the "best" Rs, whatever that means. The fact is that he voted with Minnis 98% of the time last session, and he's probably in Scott's pocket this time. Jim is thinking of running again.

  • Moderate Republican (unverified)

    You guys don't understand the politics going on here. The Republican party is in disarray. The hard core base is mad as hell at the Gordon Smith's of the party... the so called RINO's. There's lots of them in the state legislature.

    These nine figure the pendulum is going to swing way back to the right amongst the repubs in the wake of all this. They are going to stick with their base so they will be able to say they did so in future primaries. The repubs that are crossing the line are going to have a probem on their hands in future primaries.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)

    Kari nailed it. I know my share of pro-lifers of all political and philosophical persuasions (yes, even some proud Democrats) and generally respect their personal views on the subject. The more militant pro-lifers are another story. A lot of those folks do in fact hold strong anti-contraception views, consider Plan-B tantamount to abortion (REDRUM, REDRUM!) and seem to hold the belief that taking any action other than abstinence to avoid pregnancy is a mortal sin. They're certainly entitled to that belief, but any attempt to impose their personal views upon others via legislation is wrong, Un-American and well...downright stupid.

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    Right. And when they preach abstinence, they often times mean outside the marriage. They don't seem to have anything to say about avoiding pregnancies inside the marriage. Maybe that's because they're still into the whole "a woman belongs at home, pregnant and barefoot" mantra.

    They tell married couples who are poor to not have kids unless they can afford it, but don't want to make it feasible to avoid the pregnancy in the first place.

    My freshman year in college I become engaged to a man who lived here in Oregon (I was in Houston at the UofH). Since I knew you needed to start it months ahead of time if you wanted to be fully protected, I went to Planned Parenthood shortly after getting engaged so that by the time he was in Texas the pill would be effective.

    On my way in I was harassed by pro-lifers. They yelled all kinds of things at me. When I responded that I wasn't pregnant and was there for an exam and birth control, they then began yelling things about abstinence being the only answer.

    You'd think they would be happy that I was taking the initiative to do everything I could to ensure my future husband and I didn't have a child before we were ready.

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    The question, Moderate, is whether sticking to their radical fringe, these legislators are helping or hurting themselves. (And, while "radical fringe" is a charge leveled all too often in a partican fashion, it really does describe what's going on here: Kari is right - this law will REDUCE the number of abortions in Oregon.)

    These GOP lawmakers' kneejerk opposition may please the fringe base, but it may not help them to get all the way back into office. The Republican party has so besmirtched its reputation these last few years, "RINO" is no insult. It's close to being a merit badge. Even traditional cultural-conservative evangelicals are reevaluating their party affiliation right now.

    Which is why, of course, all sorts of Republicans, including Senator Smith and his near 100% voting record in supporting Bush, are now trying to style themselves as "independent".

    But of all the mainstream conservatives out there, I'd say only Chuck Hagel can wear that mantle. Gordon's just scamming the voters, and around here we all know it.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    Access to birth control pills sounds like an issue from 1962. I thought Hugh Heffner had already assured that everybody had access to "the pill".

    The more difficult issue for me is government mandated coverage of "the pill" by private health insurance companies. I have the same issue with mandated mental health coverage, drug and alcohol treatment coverage, chiropractic coverage, naturopathic coverage, or whatever.

    As you know, health insurance companies are nothing more than pass through entities. Every time they are required to pay for something, they raise premiums to reflect the actuarial cost of the mandatory coverage (plus a nice extra profit for themselves). The addition of mandatory contraception coverage will raise premiums by some amount. Maybe not much, but for some working families, increased premiums to cover this new benefit may make the coverage too expensive to afford. Is that good or bad?

    Universal single-payer coverage is the only answer to our health insurance nightmare. Piecemeal solutions are frustrating, and in my opinion are delaying a final solution to the entire mess.

  • Michael Wilson (unverified)

    Bluenote's comments about the insurance industry just passing the cost on are, pardon the pun, right on the money. I understand Connecticut has the least of these mandatory regulations and a person can buy health insurance there for about $50 a month. MW

  • ellie (unverified)

    I realize that not all Republicans / social conservatives agree with this line of thinking but...

    Let me get this straight:

    1. No birth control
    2. No abortion
    3. No welfare

    So single/poor people just shouldn't have sex?

    May I ask just who can have sex? Because if it's all about pro-creation, then aren't we eliminating all the post-menopausal women and their husbands? That's - what? - 50ish? How many people over 50 do we have in this country? And to procreate, one ought to married, no? So how many single people do we have in this country? And one must have enough wealth to raise a child and send him/her to college (a private Christian college - so "values" can be instilled) without grants, of course, because that would come out of taxpayer money. So how many middle, lower middle, and poverty level people do we have in this country? Who does that leave? Upper middle class (maybe) or wealthy people?

    I would love to split the country apart for a few decades to conduct an experiment. Give the conservatives, liberals, and "moderates" their own territories and let them rule themselves. I'd be fascinated to see what it'd look like in 50 years. The sexless, puritanical conservative territory ought to be highly entertaining/depressing to witness. How about an update on SimCity so that I can play with this idea?

  • gt (unverified)

    I am no longer legally obligated to pay my taxes if the government is going to use it to kill unborn children.

  • JMG (unverified)

    Gt: Sounds like you're cool with the government using your taxes to blow up born children in Iraq and Afghanistan though ... the Right to Life starts at the first dirty thought ... and ends at the time of birth, is that it?

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    One more time, GT. If you're AGAINST birth control, you're FOR unwanted pregnancies.

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    (Though it just occurred to me - why do we call it birth control? We should call it pregnancy prevention medication.)

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    Every time they are required to pay for something, they raise premiums to reflect the actuarial cost of the mandatory coverage (plus a nice extra profit for themselves).

    Yes. But imagine how much more you're paying on your premium for all those unwanted/unplanned pregnancies. Thousands of dollars in prenatal care, the birth, well baby visits, etc. cost a lot more than the pill each month. Yes, it is an ongoing expense. But so are well child checks, your child getting sick, needing immunizations, etc.

    And that's just for a pregnancy and birth that goes as planned and a child that is reasonably healthy. Have an emergency c-section like I did? You're looking at $15,000-20,000, depending on how long you and your baby end up staying at the hospital, how bad things are, etc.

    When we had our daughter, we paid $100 for all our prenatal care and $100 for the hospital. There was likely well over $15K in expenses, from the monthly check ups, blood tests, ultrasound, almost weekly visits in the last 8 weeks, almost daily visits in the last 2 weeks, three visits to the ER for being extremely sick, an emergency c-section, four days in the hospital, etc.

    I'd imagine the entire cost of birth control for my lifetime is likely less than that.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    GT, you're wrong (about so, so much). You're legally obligated to pay taxes if you meet any of the IRS, state or local criteria set out in applicable law. I suspect you don't know what the word "legally" means. It means "as defined or prescribed by law; conforming to law." If you're not willing to meet the obligations of citizenship then, really, you should get the hell out of the country. Taxes are extremely low in some other countries. I can vouch for Zimbabwe.

    Anyway, you inspire me to make a troll donation to the Democratic Party. I hope others will join me -- especially those that followed the leadership election with so much interest.

  • GT (unverified)

    "Gt: Sounds like you're cool with the government using your taxes to blow up born children in Iraq and Afghanistan though"

    Two different situations altogether. One is war, the other is a choice in personal accountability.

  • gt (unverified)

    "GT, you're wrong (about so, so much). You're legally obligated to pay taxes if you meet any of the IRS, state or local criteria set out in applicable law. I suspect you don't know what the word "legally" means. It means "as defined or prescribed by law; conforming to law." If you're not willing to meet the obligations of citizenship then, really, you should get the hell out of the country. Taxes are extremely low in some other countries. I can vouch for Zimbabwe."

    Well I am not going to be forced to pay for something I am morally opposed to. Conscientous Objectors don't pay their taxes because of war, well I'm not going to pay mine because of abortion. It really pisses me off that the government helps themselves to my paycheck all the time and now that I'm in severe hard times with my own health they deem me "too rich" to give me any help at all. Then to think that they force me to pay for things I am opposed to really pisses me off. I'm not paying ever again. I'm going to take care of myself no longer a slave to this government.

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    That's what happens when there are cut backs to services. They have to take those with the greatest need first. My sister, who has been unable to work for months because of her health and before that only sparingly, can't get help either. There just aren't enough funds to go around.

    But this thread isn't about abortions or the government paying for them. It's about making insurance companies cover a legitimate health need-- birth control. And making emergency contraception available so that those who are raped don't have to suffer a second time as they try to find someplace where they can get help to stop a pregnancy from happening.

    It's pretty bad when drug companies can cover medicines like Viagra, but refuse to cover birth control.

    And something men don't seem to get is that birth control is for a lot more than "birth control."

    Many women need it to regulate their hormones, cut down on the instances of endometriosis or cysts, regulate their cycles, etc.

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    "It really pisses me off that the government helps themselves to my paycheck all the time and now that I'm in severe hard times with my own health they deem me "too rich" to give me any help at all."

    If I recall correctly, you paid $12,000 in taxes last year. You ARE too rich to deserve help from the government.

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    Ignore the troll. He forgot to take his meds.

  • gt (unverified)

    Whatever. Try paying $2000 a month in meds. and medical costs. The government doesn't pay a DIME for my care! Go to hell you liberal assholes. I am not going to be your slave any more.

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    gt The government doesn't pay a DIME for my care!

    Obviously, GT. If it did, you'd be paying a hell of a lot less. America's system of nearly total privitized care is one of the most expensive on the planet. It manages, never the less, to also be the least efficient, covering fewer people, leading to worse outcomes on average, than every other industrialized nation.

    The reason is simple. Most of that $2000 per month you're paying doesn't go to medical professionals - it goes to middlemen: insurance companies, hospital billing agents, lawyers to work out contracts between them (ironically, malpractice lawsuits are the one thing that have actually declined in the last decade). It also goes to cost-shifting. Because in American we don't let people die on the street, you're already paying for poor people's medical care. You're just paying for emergency treatment, which is extremely expensive - rather than preventative care, which is overwhelmingly cheaper.

    In total, your bill would be a lot less if we went to a single payer system. Yes, there'd be a lot of corporate bureaucrats out on the street - which is why they push these scare tactics - but again, you'd save money.

    People think that Republicans are cheap. No. I'm cheap. What they really do is worship the market like it's a religion. This isn't really new. You can't serve both God and Mammon. But there are always people who will try.

  • gt (unverified)

    I don't like bureaucrats period. However, I would be more trusting of corporate bureaucrats over government ones any day. If the government monopolizes the health care system, then what will it be next? Health care rationing? Maybe the old people have outlived their usefulness so we'd just euthanize them too. God knows babies are disposable why not old people too? See where this is going?

  • Chellie (unverified)

    I have met Representative Dallum and like him very much. I met him during a student lobby day during the last session, arranged by the Oregon Students Association. I had grown very used to being lectured by representatives, about taxes, etc. every time I approached them with and issue. I found Rep. Dallum to be a breath of fresh air, specifically in regard to his willingness to sit down with a young woman and discuss possible solutions to the concerns that I had voiced to him.

  • John English (unverified)

    Dallum might be a nice guy and Donna Nelson might be a nice lady, but they are both ultra conservatives in swing ditricts, and they don't seem to have learned anything from their near defeats last year. If only FuturePAC had spent a little more money on them instead of $500,000 on Brian Clem and others who won in landslides, we would have a clear majority.

    See how Dallum and some of these others vote on the discrimiantion bills. BRO endorsed Dallum, or at least remained neutral, because he had told them he was supportive of the civil unions and employment discrimination bills. Stay tuned...

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    Health care is already rationed, GT. In fact, it's rationed by people (insurance companies) who have a vested self-intrest in denying medical care. That's why insurance companies employ people to closely check contracts to see if they can weasil out of paying. And also why American hospitals, on average, employ more claims people to negotiate, and implicitly threaten, insurance companies than they do doctors. And who is paying all those salaries? You and I are.

    But even a slippery slope argument doesn't really work. Every industrialized nation which follows a national health care model (which is nearly all of them), not only don't make it illegal for private doctors to operate, they all have thriving private industries. Most are in fields that their governments believe the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for because they're not health related, such as cosmetic surgery, things they don't consider scientific, like homeopathy and aroma-therapy, and experimental treatments.

    One thing to keep in mind, GT, is that despite conservative propaganda, Democrats are not Socialists. We worship neither at the alter of corporations or the government. We simply want what works the best at the cheapest possible price.

    Because of their generally good track record, we always give businesses first crack at solving problems. We just recognize that in some cases (involving natural monopolies and/or tragedy of the commons situations, or simple basic morality), direct government involvement is simply more efficient. But even then, we don't - like Socialists - try to drive people out of business. Our efforts usually help: free public libraries help bookstores, food-stamps help grocery stores.

    If the free-enterprise based health care system was working in the U.S., we would have no complaint about it. But clearly, it's not. And clearly, from the experience of every single first world Democracy around the world (including all of our closest allies), we know there is a cheaper way that results in a much healthier population. And none of it involves them sliding into Dictatorship.

  • GT (unverified)

    Well I am trying to keep an open mind about this issue. I am going to a "HOPE FOR HEALTHY OREGON TOUR" meeting and will hear their proposal. All I know is that despite having health insurance I still have to pay close to $2000 a month for care because I have a condition that my insurance doesn't cover. If the state takes it over they'll no doubt let the freeloaders milk off it the most while the people who actually pay into it out to dry. I was insulted with a recent trip to DHS and found that my tax money is going to pay for criminals' health care and yet they wouldn't give me a dime, "too rich" I guess. Maybe I need to lower my standards so I, too, can get a free ride.

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