March 25, 2021
[3/25/21] Sometimes your Facebook anniversary memories are bittersweet in ways you could never have imagined. On March 24, 2018, OPS’s new Advocacy Committee organized its first advocacy action, joining thousands in downtown Portland decrying gun violence in America after the Parkland High School massacre. I look at the photos of our energized and hopeful band of 25 OPS pediatricians, medical students, and family members – close together, without masks – and am so grateful to this group for launching three years of robust OPS advocacy.
And, I cherish each one of our OPS members more than ever after our year of physical distance and tragic health crises, tears shed, unnecessary lives lost.
Today, our country is reeling and grieving from epidemics caused by viruses, gun violence, and racism. We are mourning yet again from two mass shootings in less than a week. There have been approximately 30 million total cases (3.3 M in children) and more than half a million deaths from the COVID pandemic. Attacks on Asian Americans and refugees continue. Voter suppression efforts have ramped up.
To be clear: OPS condemns the language, misinformation campaigns, and racism that foment violence against children, immigrants, and the LGBTQ and BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) communities.
The news can be heartbreaking. And yet, OPS members believe things can get better for kids by meeting their physical, mental, and
emotional health needs through social justice, equitable education and opportunity, and environmental progress. We commit to science with compassion. We will continue to advocate for laws that protect children’s safety, promote public health, and increase the well-being of families.
Thank you for serving those who do not have our privileges and supporting our frontline workers.
OPS Executive Director
At less than halfway through the Oregon 2021 legislative session, here are some highlights of OPS’s advocacy agenda and some linked member testimony to bills that are still being considered by the state legislature.
PROMOTING CHILDHOOD VACCINATION
We will continue to push the legislature for laws to protect vulnerable kids from vaccine-preventable diseases. Let us know if you want to join OPS’s Immunity Community of pro-vaccine clinicians, parents, and community members.
More than a dozen OPS members, including pediatrician Rep. Lisa Reynolds, MD, provided testimony to the House Health Care committee for HB 2510, requiring safe firearm storage at home to decrease accidental, intentional, and gun suicide deaths and injuries.
The AAP advocates for increased research in gun violence prevention, and among other gun reform measures, supports universal background checks and a federal ban on assault weapons.
OPS joins with a broad coalition supporting HB 2337. As OPS Board President Alanna Braun, MD, said in her bill testimony, “Health equity is not possible until we address racism in our state and communities. We need to name this problem, to face it head on and start to work to mitigate the effects of racism. So please, let us name it: racism is a public health crisis, and we must act now.”
We support efforts to study and reduce Early Childhood School Expulsion (SB 236).
OPS endorses HB 3265, which would strengthen Oregon’s Sanctuary State laws.
OPS is an active member of the Oregon Alliance to Prevent Suicide and supports HB 2315 requiring training in suicide assessment for behavioral health workers.
REDUCING YOUTH ACCESS AND ADDICTION TO NICOTINE
OPS supports broader access to pediatric primary and specialty care, and behavioral health visits, through telehealth (HB 2508). We believe ABA Therapy for kids with autism should be paid for by insurance (SB 355). We think Child Advocacy Centers that coordinate services for and treat kids who have been abused should be much better funded (HB 2826).
CLIMATE CHANGE and ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate change advocates from AAP chapters around the country will be featured at OPS’s Saturday, April 17 virtual CME conference. Register here.
Some of the other OPS bill endorsements include:
Funding for Reach Out and Read, Support for Unaccompanied Houseless Youth, Strengthening the School Meals program, Less Toxic Kid Products, Creating a State Early Childhood Equity in Access Report, Preschool Access Expansion, and Public Health Modernization.