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The #WestCoastBestCoast: Reproductive Health Care Coverage, Paid Family Leave, and Other Recent Victories in the Northwest

Everyone who knows me has heard me bragging about my hometown in the Pacific Northwest.  The usual response: “But isn’t the rain awful there?” To all you sun-loving doubters out there, here is my response for you – who cares about rain when I have comprehensive insurance coverage, paid family leave, fair scheduling, and increased access to birth control? Northwestern laws are giving me the support I need to decide if, when, and how to have children and the stable, predictable work schedule I need to accommodate my caregiving responsibilities and promote my economic security.

Here are 4 reasons I am humble bragging about my Northwest roots this summer:

 

 

 

  • Oregon just became the first state in the nation to pass comprehensive fair scheduling legislation and with bipartisan support. The bill requires retail, food service, and hospitality businesses to give workers two weeks’ advance notice of work schedules and additional pay for shift changes. It also gives workers a right to a minimum of 10 hours of rest between daily shifts and a right to give input into their work schedule without fear of retaliation. Oregon’s fair scheduling act will provide stability and predictability for working people and their families, allowing them to meet their family responsibilities, stay in jobs, and advance their education and careers. It is also a victory for reproductive justice: women, especially women of color, are disproportionately affected by unpredictable work schedules because they not only hold the majority of low-wage jobs, but also shoulder the majority of caregiving responsibilities. Unfair scheduling practices can make it impossible for workers to schedule appointments, forcing them to forgo needed care, which can have long-term consequences. A woman who is unable to get the birth control she needs, for example, is at greater risk of having an unintended pregnancy.

 

 

  • Both Washington and Oregon passed bills that require insurance companies to cover 12 months of birth control at one time—meaning patients will only have to pick up their birth control once a year. This is a substantial step toward reducing barriers to birth control and decreasing unintended pregnancies: a woman who receives a one-year supply of birth control has a 30% lower chance of an unplanned pregnancy compared with a woman who receives only 30 or 90 days. Patients will no longer have to take time off from work or school each month or pay high transportation costs to get the birth control they need, which is especially important for patients in rural areas, those who have difficulty accessing a pharmacy, and those with inflexible work schedules. Moreover, the Oregon law allows pharmacists to dispense birth control pills without requiring a woman to get a prescription beforehand. By removing these barriers to birth control access, these laws support not only the reproductive health and decision-making of women, but also their long-term economic security.

 

 

The policies enacted in these states work together to ensure individuals have the supports they need to make the decision about whether and when to start a family that is best for them, and protect individuals from difficult scheduling practices in order to give families a fair shot at achieving economic security. So the next time you hear someone ask about the weather in the Northwest, I will just be over here singing in the rain for reproductive justice and economic security!