Electeds Affirm Right to Abortion in Oregon

Photo by Sarah Mirk (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
A woman protests outside a Planned Parenthood in Portland in 2011.

$1 million grant to increase abortion access will be released immediately; Planned Parenthood confirms it is working to establish Ontario clinic.

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Gov. Kate Brown — along with the governors of Washington and California — announced plans Friday morning to strengthen legal protections for abortion providers and patients who travel to the three states to obtain abortion care Friday, and a philanthropy has announced the release of $1 million in funds to expand abortion access.

In a joint statement issued Friday morning, the governors directed law enforcement not to cooperate with out-of-state investigations of people who travel to the three states to obtain abortion care.

The statement came shortly after the Supreme Court issued Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a long-anticipating ruling that explicitly overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that the right to abortion is constitutionally protected, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 ruling that reaffirms that right.

“Let me be clear: You cannot ban abortion, you can only ban safe abortions — and this disgraceful Supreme Court decision will undoubtedly put many people’s lives at risk, in addition to stripping away a constitutional right that disproportionately affects women and has been settled law for most of our lifetimes,” wrote Gov. Kate Brown in a statement.

In 2017 Oregon’s legislature passed House Bill 3391, which protects the right to abortion with no specific time limit. Washington and California law protect the right to abortion up to the point of fetal viability.

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In 2020 Idaho passed a law that would criminalize most abortions in the state in the event Roe is overturned. That ban is due to take effect next month.

Oregon has just one abortion clinic east of the Cascades, in Bend. In April the Malheur Enterprise reported that Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette has leased medical office space in Ontario, which is on the Idaho-Oregon border. During a Friday-afternoon press conference, Anne Udall, president and CEO of PPCW, confirmed that the organization is working to establish a clinic in Ontario, but said no further details are available.

Earlier this year the Oregon Legislature earmarked $15 million in funding to help nonprofits increase abortion access. The fund is being managed by the grant-making organization Seeding Justice, which on Friday announced a $1 million grant to provide “immediate and urgent resources” for those most affected, the Portland Business Journal reported.

Also on Friday, all three gubernatorial candidates had issued statements on the Dobbs ruling. Democratic candidate Tina Kotek wrote that she was “furious” and “deeply concerned for women around the country.” Kotek also took shots at both her opponents, saying Republican Christine Drazan has fought legislation to block abortion access and “has even bragged about her long-standing support from anti-abortion extremist group Oregon Right to Life.” 

Johnson wrote, “I am pro-choice. This is a bedrock issue for me, and frankly, for Oregon. A fundamental right. As Oregon’s independent governor, I will always defend and protect a woman’s right to choose.”

Drazan wrote that despite the SCOTUS decision, Oregon continues to have “the most extreme abortion laws in the country and around the world” and vowed to “stand up for life by vetoing legislation designed to push Oregon further outside the mainstream.”

This story has been updated from an earlier version.