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Erica Fuller: Newly empowered anti-abortion majority on commission would have chilling effect on reproductive freedoms

After the recent devastating Supreme Court decision to roll back the right to abortion, voters must demand clear and unambiguous answers from candidates for every office on what they will do to protect reproductive freedom and access to abortion.Erica Fuller

The loss of our constitutional rights and the suggestion by members of the court that this is a step toward repealing our rights to contraception and other basic freedoms shows we are entering a period where elected leaders at every level must be ready to fight for us and our reproductive health care. Standing up for our rights and ensuring access is now a responsibility of each officeholder at the state and local level.

Here in Oregon, Clackamas County will be a critical test for how we respond to these growing threats to reproductive freedom. County commission candidate Libra Forde has stated clearly and unequivocally she will champion reproductive rights and equitable access to care. She has a proven record on the North Clackamas School Board of standing up for a comprehensive, science-based health curriculum in the face of attacks by anti-abortion and anti-LBGTQIA+ forces. And she currently serves as the executive director of the Women's Foundation of Oregon. That is why Pro-Choice Oregon PAC is proud to support her in this election.

Forde's opponent, Paul Savas, has a long record of opposition to abortion and represents the swing vote for the anti-choice majority that currently controls the county commission. Savas has been actively supported in his campaigns by groups working to outlaw abortion and roll back our rights.

In the post-Roe world, county commissioners will play a critical role in the fight for reproductive freedom. Legal rights are meaningful only to the degree that someone can exercise them. And even here in Oregon we are not immune to efforts to close abortion providers and restrict access to reproductive health services. Indeed, as Oregon becomes a potential haven for those traveling from states that have criminalized abortion, gaps in local services position Clackamas County as a frontline for people seeking care.

A county commission can have a critical impact on the ability to access abortion and reproductive health services. Public funding for nonprofit service providers is critical to filling gaps in coverage for our most vulnerable. Hospital and health system mergers can eliminate access to care when care is curtailed based on religious beliefs. Zoning and regulatory hurdles can be used to create unreasonable burdens on clinics and providers. And data privacy policies create new threats of surveillance for pregnant or potentially pregnant people.

Beyond policies and funding, a newly empowered anti-abortion majority on the Clackamas County Commission will have a chilling effect on reproductive freedoms in the county and across the region. The loss of the rights established under Roe demonstrate the peril of ignoring those committed to making abortion illegal — and more so when they hold power in our government.

Voters this November should replace Savas with Libra Forde, a champion for reproductive freedom.

Erica Fuller is the co-chair of the Pro-Choice Oregon Political Action Committee.

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