Dobbs decision rocks nation, ripples spread in Oregon

On the morning of June 24, the United States Supreme Court passed down a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which removed the federal protection women have had since 1973 to make their own reproductive choices.

Anti-abortion activists all over the country are celebrating on social media, news programs and public appearances, including the team at the Oregon Right to Life (ORTL) office in Keizer, who echoed their state leader’s comments.

“This is a historic day,” said ORTL Executive Director Lois Anderson in a written statement forwarded to Keizertimes. “The day the pro-life movement has been working toward for over 50 years.”

Current Oregon House Majority Leader Julie Fahey has a different take, but both agree that this is what the anti-choice movement has been working toward for decades.

“I was born after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. So, my generation has never known a world where we did not have the legal right to access abortion,” she said. “But my entire life, anti-choice Republican politicians and judges have been working towards this exact moment. We have never had a constitutional right taken away from us — but that’s exactly what this Supreme Court has done today.”

However, things won’t change much for Oregon women in this regard, any time soon. Here the right to an abortion is guaranteed by law.  Oregon revised its statutes governing public health and safety, known as Reproductive Health Act of 2017, to specify that the termination of a pregnancy “may not be grounds for the loss of any privilege or immunity to which that person is otherwise entitled.” Oregon law also restricts the government from requiring the termination of a pregnancy in order to continue the receipt of government benefits. Furthermore, the state permits abortion up to birth, there are no designated waiting periods or mandatory ultrasounds, nor is there is any form of consent requirement for minors from a parent or guardian.

In a practical sense, the decision will have almost no impact on Oregon women’s access to reproductive healthcare. However, with several other states recently passing “trigger laws” which, now that Roe has been overturned, will soon be in effect – local abortion providers are expecting to have to cope with much more demand for their services.

“People’s lives don’t stop at borders, and Oregonians will not be immune from the harm caused by this decision,” said Pro-Choice Oregon Director Christel Allen in a statement to the media, today. “With our partners, we will be doing everything we can to mitigate the fallout from bans in neighboring states like Idaho.”

Allen adds that earlier this year, the Oregon Legislature allocated $15 million in state funds to “Seeding Justice,” the non-profit behind the Oregon Reproductive Health Equity Fund, designed to expand reproductive rights in general and fill in gaps in reproductive health women may experience from state-to-state in a post-Roe America.

Former Speaker of the House in Oregon and current candidate for governor Tina Kotek led the 2017 legislative effort to get reproductive rights enshrined into Oregon law, and she also released a statement June 24.

“I’m horrified by what happened today,” said Kotek. “I have always said that no matter what happens at the Supreme Court, reproductive rights will be protected in Oregon. As governor, I will keep that promise.”

One of her opponents in the gubernatorial race, Republican Christine Drazan, says she will veto any legislation which further expands or guarantees reproductive rights.

“Oregon will continue to have among the most extreme abortion laws in the country and around the world,” said Drazan. “As governor, I will stand up for life by vetoing legislation designed to push Oregon further outside the mainstream.”

None of local religious leaders we contacted wanted to offer a statement on the Dobbs decision at this time.