Oregon Website Eases Access Amidst Supreme Court Anti-Abortion Hearing

Making it easier for women to access an abortion, the Oregon Health Authority launched a website on Tuesday to provide useful information about women’s reproductive rights.

The launch was timed to coincide with an abortion case being heard on the same day by the U.S. Supreme Court which was brought by groups hoping to restrict access to an abortion pill. Health authority officials said this confirms Oregon’s support for retaining wide access to abortions.

Prompted by the Roe v. Wade decision, a legislative workgroup recommended that the health authority create a website with comprehensive reproductive health information which led to the Abortion Access website. Following this, the Democratic-controlled Legislature allocated $15 million to a Reproductive Health Equity Fund seeking to help women in underserved communities gain access to abortions and other reproductive care. Another $8.5 million was distributed to 23 organizations serving low-income, racially and ethnically diverse communities last week.

The Abortion Access Plan helps people not covered by their insurer and offers information about various abortion services,  a list of abortion providers, patients’ legal rights, insurance information, and assistance with costs, travel, and other support.


Abortions In Oregon Are Legal

Abortions are legal in Oregon but 75% of Oregon counties, representing about one-fifth of the state’s women, don’t have an abortion provider. The Abortion Access in Oregon website confirms that abortions are legal in Oregon, where the fewest restrictions nationwide are applied. Gov. Tina Kotek also indicated that both state residents and visitors to the state can access an abortion in Oregon.

Abortions are free to patients under the Reproductive Health Equity Act passed in 2017, but they must be covered by insurance, including Medicaid and commercial and employer plans. Abortions for undocumented immigrants are also covered but there are exceptions. Due to a congressional ban on using federal funds for abortions,  federal employees, veterans, tribal communities, and others receiving health care coverage through the federal government are not covered for the procedure. Providence Health Plan and other religious employers were also allowed to opt-out.


Access To Abortions Opposed

U.S. Supreme Court justices have heard arguments in a case against the abortion pill, mifepristone,  backed by religious groups. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug in 2000 and updated FDA guidelines issued in 2016 made it easier to prescribe the pill.

Conservative religious groups want to make access to the drug harder by rolling back the FDA guidelines. The pill, which is also used to ease miscarriages, is used to induce an abortion, mifepristone with the addition of misoprostol.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, medically induced abortion accounts for over 60% of abortions across the nation.

A ruling in the mifepristone case is expected later this year. If the judges rule against easier access to the pill, the stockpile of a three-year supply of the medication that Gov. Kotek ordered to be bought about a year ago, would be affected.


Protests Against Limiting  Access To Abortion

In Washington D.C., hundreds turned out to protest limiting abortion further. Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum was one of the protesters who spoke alongside Attorney General Letitia James of New York as they rallied for access to safe and legal abortion.

In Oregon, Sen Ron Wyden said the Supreme Court case was another attempt by conservatives to turn back reproductive health care that followed the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022. Abortion providers, advocates, and Democratic lawmakers gathered in northeast Portland, presenting a united front for retaining access to mifepristone.

The Health Authority’s Larry Bingham said that there is confusion about reproductive health rights nationally, and they wanted to ensure that people in Oregon have accurate, factual information and access to resources and services about abortion through the Access Abortion website.

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