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Here’s what’s in the bill that spurred the latest Republican walkout from the Oregon Senate

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Republicans walked out of the Oregon Senate this week in large part to avoid a vote on a reproductive health care bill that passed the House on Monday. The bill passed despite delay tactics in the House and 6 hours of floor debate. OPB covered that debate and the contents of the bill on Tuesday, publishing a story shortly before the walkout commenced. Below is the short version of that story — just four main things to know about the bill that caused Republican state senators to walk out of the statehouse again.

State senate in session at the Oregon Capitol in Salem, March 20, 2023.

State senate in session at the Oregon Capitol in Salem, March 20, 2023.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff/OPB

What makes this bill confusing?

HB 2002 is an omnibus bill, meaning there are a lot of different policies in it, all loosely related to reproductive health care and health care for people who are transgender or nonbinary.

Adding to the confusion, Republicans are using the bill as an opportunity to debate some other Oregon laws, already on the books, that they vehemently oppose.

For example, one of Republicans’ central argument is that children should not be allowed to access gender-affirming care, like hormone blockers, without their parent’s consent.

That’s not in HB 2002. It’s established state law.

In Oregon, youth have the right to consent to their own medical care, including gender-affirming care, starting at age 15.

Would this bill change parents’ rights to object to medical care for their children?

The bill does not change when an adolescent can receive gender-affirming care without parental consent. That age is 15 under current Oregon law.

Here’s what it does change: The bill clarifies that parental consent is not required for children under the age of 15 to receive an abortion.

And it would allow adolescents of any age to get specific types of reproductive health care, including contraception, STI treatment, and pre- and postnatal care without parental consent.

Whether or not that’s a big change depends on how to interpret overlapping state and federal laws.

Right now, Oregon does not have any specific laws that require parental consent or notification for abortion at any age.

Oregon used to have a statute that required parental consent for abortions, but it was repeated in the 1980s after the US Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional to give parents absolute veto power over their child’s abortion.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned and there’s no federal constitutional right to abortion, it’s possible that Oregon’s general law that established 15 as the age of medical consent could apply to abortions too. In practice, some reproductive health clinics in Oregon have required parental consent for minors under 15.

In general, while it’s relatively common for adolescents who are 15 to 19 years old to get an abortion, it’s rare for people under 15. The most recent data in Oregon is from 2021. That year, there were 14 abortions for children under the age of 15.

HB 2002 would also limit the situations in which a medical provider can disclose to a parent that their child has had an abortion or sought contraception or other reproductive health care if the child objects to that disclosure.

So what does this bill change when it comes to access to health care for transgender people?

Oregon already requires state Medicaid and most private medical insurers to cover some gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy and some surgeries.

The bill would expand the scope of care Medicaid and private insurance is required to cover to include things like laser hair removal and facial feminization surgery.

More broadly, it makes it harder for private health insurance plans and the state’s Medicaid providers to deny or limit coverage for gender-affirming treatment, if a doctor has judged the treatment is medically necessary.

What else does the bill do?

The proposed changes to parental consent law and the expansion of gender-affirming care are the main points of controversy. But the bill does many other things. Among them, it attempts to protect health care providers who perform abortions or provide gender-affirming care in Oregon from facing legal consequences due to laws in other states that restrict or criminalize providing those services.

For example, it prevents insurance companies that provide malpractice insurance to doctors in Oregon from penalizing them or raising their rates based on the fact that they provide abortions or gender-affirming care.

It would create a pilot project to deploy two mobile health clinics to provide abortion, gender-affirming care and other reproductive health services in rural areas. And it requires student health centers to provide enrolled students with access to emergency contraception and medication abortion.

The bill would also make it a crime to block people who are trying to enter a health care facility. And it would outlaw making excessive noise or excessive unnecessary phone calls that interfere with a facility’s operations.

And it repudiates a state law that makes it a misdemeanor crime to conceal the corpse of an infant.

Democrats framed the bill as an effort to protect patients’ privacy rights, close gaps in insurance coverage, and increase access to abortion and gender-affirming care in rural parts of the state.

House Republicans said the omnibus bill did too much, hasn’t received proper scrutiny and would undermine parents’ rights in sensitive medical decisions.