Pro-Choice Oregon Statement on Supreme Court Oral Arguments
“No Longer a Question Of If– But When Roe Falls”
On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the most consequential abortion rights case in nearly 50 years. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case regarding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, and a direct challenge to the future of Roe v. Wade.
A majority of justices on the Supreme Court appear poised to uphold Mississippi’s ban, which would in effect overturn Roe, in spite of 50 years of legal precedent. This decision would be an effective end to the constitutional right to abortion in America. No longer a question of if—but when Roe falls, *half* of U.S. states would be poised to ban abortion. In this scenario, the harm and chaos experienced by folks in Mississippi and other states like Texas, will continue to spread across the South, Midwest and beyond. This change will profoundly limit access to abortion for over 36 million people in America—and will have a disproportionate impact and cause detrimental harm to Black, Indigenous, and other persons of color who can become pregnant, as well as to LGBTQIA+ individuals, the working poor, rural communities and other most-impacted populations.
We stand in solidarity with states that will bear the most harmful consequences of these unjust actions — including our neighbors in Idaho, who have a trigger ban in place that would immediate ban abortion after a SCOTUS decision.
Oregonians have spent the last 40 years building power and electing reproductive champions like Speaker Tina Kotek and Governor Brown, who in 2017 after the election of Donald Trump, led the passage the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), which codified the legal protections granted in Roe in state statute and expanded access to abortion for people who were previously denied access to due immigration status, gender identity or geographic location. On some level, we knew the courts would not protect us, which is what we have seen play out since the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We also know that RHEA has not gone far enough and our state has much more work to do to ensure that all people in Oregon have access to reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy.
In Oregon, we’ve always viewed abortion access as a federal and state issue, and while we support the passage of the EACH Act to repeal the Hyde Amendment and passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify the legal right to abortion in federal law, we also know the majority of fights ahead will be fought at the state and local level.
A Supreme Court decision to uphold the 15-week abortion ban would would lead to an increase of 234% of people who would need to drive to Oregon from neighboring states to receive abortion care. In states like ours, we need to get serious about building clinic and telemedicine infrastructure, expanding mutual aid like abortion funds, cultivating and diversifying our reproductive health care provider network, and scaling community based programs that are able to reach people most impacted by abortion bans. We applaud the recent actions by Portland City Commissioners like Jo An Hardesty and Carmen Rubio who took action after the fallout following Texas SB 8 to allocate $200,000 to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund.
And while the Court’s actions are a specific threat to Roe—the right to an abortion—we also must recognize the reality for many: that the legal right to abortion alone has never been enough to ensure people, especially BIPOC and people working to make ends meet, can get the care they need when they need it. We need more than legality, we need a world where abortion is affordable and available in all of our communities, when people need care, from providers and in ways that people trust. We’re honored to be among the 117 partners rallying to liberate abortion access everywhere. We are not yet there in Oregon, and we absolutely need our champions, our supporters, our volunteers and activists to help us go further and continue to lead our nation forward. This is why we are already working with elected leaders and partners across our region to continue to make progress expanding access to people in Oregon who still lack quality, culturally-informed, and comprehensive reproductive health care services in their communities, and we need to get serious about building capacity and infrastructure to provide care for an onslaught of people who will be forced to travel to our state to receive essential health care.