Oregon Democrats Advance Sweeping Bill Aimed at Protecting Gender Surgery, Abortion

Lawmakers in Orgon have advanced a wide-reaching bill intended to protect sex reassignment health care and abortion for transgender people by expanding access and insurance coverage and boosting legal safeguards.

On Monday night, Democrat representatives passed the bill along party lines in a vote on the House floor that stretched for roughly six hours after Republicans sought to delay it.

Citing concerns about the broad scope of the bill, which addresses topics ranging from emergency contraception at university student health centers to access to abortion to insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery, Republicans attempted several motions to send the bill back to separate policy committees, postpone the vote until next month, or indefinitely.

GOP state Representative Lily Morgan was among individuals who spoke out in favor of its postponement.

“It would give us the time to address some of the concerns brought up today and, if nothing else, have an honest discussion around them,” said Morgan.

Republicans said they were frustrated that the legislation, which has set off a vigorous debate, only was given one public hearing. The charged hearing at the Oregon state capitol in Salem in March lasted several hours and featured dozens of people who testified in person. Hundreds of others submitted written testimony both against and for it.

Dems said the bill had been written over the past year and originated in a workgroup that was convened following the Supreme Court overturn of the Roe v. Wade decision.

“This bill is the result of a year-long collaboration between dozens of legislators and stakeholders, including patients, providers, advocates, community groups, and legal experts. It protects, strengthens, and expands safe, equitable access to reproductive and sex reassignment care — no matter who you are, where you live, or how much money you make,” said Dan Rayfield, Democratic Speaker, in a news release.

Legislation would implement expansive series of measures

The bill would implement a broad series of steps, including shielding providers and patients from lawsuits that originate in states where sex reassignment care and abortion are now restricted. It would also require community colleges and public universities with student health centers to provide medication for abortion and emergency contraception.

In addition, it would broaden insurance coverage for sex reassignment health care by blocking insurers from defining prescribed cosmetic procedures that are prescribed as medically necessary for treating gender dysphoria, along with other things.

The portions of the proposal that have proved to be the most contentious are regarding minors. Under the legislation, physicians would be allowed to provide an abortion to anyone regardless of age, and in some instances, it would prevent them from disclosing that to parents.

Democrat lawmakers have stated that such scenarios are rare. However, critics say this could exclude parents from critical aspects of their child’s health care.

In Oregon, abortion remains legal in all states of pregnancy, and state law blocks health insurance companies from discriminating based on gender identity. But, Dem lawmakers say the measure is needed to combat a flurry of anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion measures in conservative legislatures that compels people to travel to states like Oregon to receive the sought-after care.

The legislation now heads to the Senate, also led by Democrats, where it could come to a vote as early as this week.