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Portland and Multnomah County leaders vow to protect abortion rights after Supreme Court draft leak.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A crowd gathers at Lownsdale Square across from the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in Portland Tuesday, May 3 to rally for abortion rights. Across the United States, protests and demonstrations were planned at courthouses in opposition to a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion showing intent to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Portland City Council joined the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in denouncing the draft majority opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade.

The 1973 decision guarantees people's right to an abortion nationwide.

The commission condemned the draft on Tuesday, May 3, after it was leaked from the court. The news website Politico first reported the draft opinion.

All five members of the council issued statements denouncing the draft the next day.

"The leaked draft from the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrates a disregard for people to choose how to safely make healthcare decisions. I will continue to advocate for the right to choose by supporting local organizations and those impacted by this incredibly harmful revocation of human rights," said Mayor Ted Wheeler, whose comments were echoed by the other members of the council.

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY - Left to right, Multnomah County board members Sharon Meieran, Susheela Jayapal, chair Deborah Kafoury, Jessica Vega Pederson and Lori Steggman.The council statements followed a protest by hundreds of people against the pending ruling on Monday afternoon, Before that, the board released a statement that said, "People across the country are in fear, concerned about their personal health and safety due to this judicial attack on a well-established right supported by a majority of Americans. In Oregon, we are fortunate to have protections in place, but we know people in neighboring states and throughout the country may be forced to rely on unsafe procedures that will further endanger their health and well-being."

Oregon codified the right to an abortion with the Reproductive Health Equity Act of 2017. The law requires Oregon private health insurance plans to cover abortions with no out-of-pocket costs and expanded reproductive health coverage to people regardless of their immigration status.

Several states across the country have recently been moving forward with legislation that dramatically restricts abortions. Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a bill into law in March banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The Idaho Supreme Court later paused the implementation of the bill.

Abortion providers in Oregon say they've already seen the impact of states' anti-abortion restrictions on their clinics.

"History shows us that making abortion care illegal does not end abortion," the board said. "But it does threaten the health and welfare of people, particularly those who don't have the privilege or wealth to travel or pay for procedures."

The board's statement was also a call to enact new abortion protections at the federal level.

Congress should act quickly to codify people's right to an abortion, the board said.

The board called for federal legislation to protect and support patients seeking abortions lawfully outside their home states, as well as their health care providers. Some states are considering bills that would penalize people for traveling out of state for abortions.

Additionally, the board asked for Congress to repeal a provision, called the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.

The board, whose five members are all women, expects the Supreme Court to target other protections, including the right to contraception and marriage equality. Some legal experts believe the draft opinion questions the right to privacy that Roe and many other court decisions are based on.

"We ask community members who care about the right to make their own health care decisions, without interference, to urge Congress to act now," the board said.


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