Last year, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon launched the Marilyn Epstein Pro-Choice Champion Award to recognize a leader who goes above and beyond in advocating for women’s and reproductive health care issues. We are proud to announce that Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown will be the recipient of this year’s award at the 2012 Courageous Voice Breakfast with Valerie Plame Wilson, which will be held Thursday, May 3rd at Portland Art Museum’s Kridel Grand Ballroom.
Before being elected to office, Brown began her career as an advocate working with the Women’s Rights Coalition to pass Family Medical Leave and numerous bills on women’s health, domestic violence and economic fairness for women in the workplace. Thanks to the work of her and many others, Oregon became one of the first states in the country to allow parents to stay home with their sick family members without fear of losing their job.
As a freshman legislator in 1993, Brown helped found the Oregon Women’s Health and Wellness Alliance, a legislative coalition of advocates and elected officials who have passed multiple laws to improve the lives and health of women and their families in Oregon.
Since then, Brown has been a leader in standing up for a woman’s right to choose and protecting access to health care, even in the toughest of economic and political times. She was an early pioneer of the movement for contraceptive equity for Oregon women: In 2007, after a 14-year battle with the far right and the insurance industry, she succeeded in prohibiting insurance companies from excluding prescription contraceptives if they cover other prescription drugs. For Brown, it was a matter of basic fairness. At the time, women of reproductive age paid an average of 68% more for out-of-pocket health care coverage than men.
And that’s not all:
- Kate Brown led the effort to require hospitals to offer emergency contraceptives to women who seek them after sexual assault.
- Kate Brown introduced legislation aimed at preventing “alternative to abortion” organizations from spreading false or misleading information to women.
- Kate Brown has earned a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon for her entire career.