The Reproductive Health Equity Act: an Interview

Michelle Ivezic is the president of the Central Catholic Students for Life club. I sat down and had a conversation with her about the Reproductive Health Equity Act and women’s health.

While it has been an extremely controversial law, especially in pro-life groups, Michelle has a positive outlook on the bulk of the law. She says, “I think it helps with domestic abuse. It helps with prenatal care and breast cancer screening, all this kinda stuff which I totally am all for.”

We went on to discuss the downsides of the law, and did indeed land on abortion and contraceptives. Her opinion is that “not exactly constitutionally correct because of first amendment rights, obviously freedom of religion.” To clarify, this is referring to the requirement that even religious institutions must provide some sort of access to abortion or contraceptive services, whether that be directly through the company’s insurance or through the allowance for a woman (or man) to remove themselves from the insurance and seek elsewhere. Michelle believes “a lot of people have moral qualms with it”  and “it’s not always taxpayer funded and that the company or the person has to pay the premium but sometimes it is [taxpayer funded] and even that sometimes, like, people don’t want that on their conscience because they believe it is a human rights issue.”

Michelle says the law could be bettered through a religious exemption, but additionally that it should not contain “contraception and abortion in it for very social reasons as well because I feel like it ruins the family.”

There exists a plethora of viewpoints on what should be covered by government funding and protections, and what shouldn’t be. She had some insight into things that encompass not only the effects of assault, but start at the source. She says,”Prenatals are amazing. I know my sisters are having babies, and prenatals are great because it balances out the things that their body cannot produce. I also love the domestic abuse idea because I think there’s a huge increase in not just domestic abuse, but rape on campus and stuff like that so if there’s self defense classes through that, that’d be great . I definitely support the breast cancer screening, the cancer screening, and if women want to get checked out for all the STDs and stuff that should totally be covered. Educational services should be covered because a lot of women don’t really know as much about the reproductive system as others and I just feel like everyone is not on the same level of understanding their body so I think that’s pretty important.”

From here, the conversation delved into the differentiation between rights and privilege. What’s considered privilege? What’s a right? Should the rights be government protected and funded? In her opinion, “privilege is obviously like having sex and some contraceptives are.” She recognizes that some women use contraceptives to maintain their period and the like, and she understands that fully, however, “abortion should be more of a privilege because that is something that you’re consciously aware can come out of sexual activity and you should be able to be responsible for that.” She went on to say that rape is an exception to this, but if you’re responsible enough to have sex, you should be responsible for the consequences. Overall, she says, “I think privilege is more in the sexual activity and right is the education and services that all women really need [because] I feel like, honestly, sexual activity is more of a want than a need.”

As far as government protection and funding goes, she says, ”I think that reproductive health is kind of intruding on everyone’s privacy so I don’t think it should be government funded. There are some really good services out there though that we’ve been dependent on for a while so it’s kind of hard. I just think it’s an intrusion on privacy. If they were really involved in your life in that aspect [because] that’s a very personal aspect.”

This law covers everyone living within Oregon bounds and Michelle likes “that it has equal opportunity for everybody”  but feels “like it is a little unfair to Oregonians because we’re paying people who aren’t necessarily paying for the services themselves so I don’t know if that’s exactly fair or equitable just because they’re not funding it as well.” She finds the economic aspect questionable but finds the benefits overall good.

Michelle’s closing remarks on the Reproductive Health Equity Act are, “that part of the bill is amazing, but I also think part of the bill needs to be just revised for constitutional reasons because of first amendment rights. I appreciate that it’s not just on one side but it’s for all genders and everything.”