OPINION: Choose to protect choice this November
When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the long-standing Roe v. Wade decision this summer, like many of my constituents, I felt sick to my stomach.
As a mom, a grandma and a lawmaker, I knew the progress this turned back for so many Americans. I feared the devastating impacts this would have — the right to make your own decisions about your body taken away from you by the federal government.
While I was somewhat comforted by the safeguards that Oregon legislators, including myself, have passed in recent years to reaffirm this right in our state, I knew the impacts would still be significant.
Three weeks after the decision was announced, I visited Idaho for the Council of State Governments-West (CSG West) Conference with legislative colleagues from around the country. The reality of the ruling really hit me while I was in our neighboring state.
Idaho has a trigger law banning abortion in nearly all cases that went into effect after the Supreme Court ruling. I could only imagine how this monumental change could impact the people walking by me on the sidewalk, or sitting at the table over at a restaurant. In Idaho's conservative-controlled legislature, there is no relief for residents in need of an abortion — except likely traveling here to Oregon.
My advocacy for reproductive rights began when I served on the Hillsboro school board and advocated for widespread access to comprehensive sex education and contraceptives.
Research shows us that education and access to contraception help reduce abortions. Many of us know individuals whose lives have been impacted in some way by teenage pregnancies.
Much like the ongoing fight for reproductive rights, the simple act of providing contraceptives in our school-based health centers was an uphill battle. In 2016, a conservative majority opposed efforts to do so. We kept pushing forward, and in 2018, the Hillsboro School District made contraception widely available to students as part of their health care programs. Students can be prescribed contraceptives at the school-based health center. Under Oregon law, children as young as 15 can seek medical care without parental permission and students of any age are able to seek contraceptive services without parental approval.
When I joined the State Legislature in 2016, ensuring the right to choose was protected for all Oregonians was one of my top priorities. I am proud to have sponsored and supported the Reproductive Health Equity Act in 2017 — which makes Oregon a leader in the United States for protecting abortion access and expands health care services regardless of income level.
My advocacy has continued throughout my time in the Legislature, and earlier this year, as your senator, I supported a $15 million investment package to expand provider network capacity and support for people accessing abortion health care needs. I am proud to be the only candidate for Senate District 15 endorsed by Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon and Pro-Choice Oregon PAC.
In a post-Roe world, we cannot afford to elect anyone to the Legislature who opposes abortion or supports it with caveats.
Oregonians have time and time again voted to protect access to abortion care. Access to abortion shouldn't depend on who you are or where you live. It is a personal decision. Abortion bans do not eliminate abortions — it puts women's lives at risk by making abortions unsafe and increases inequality by placing the burden largely on those who cannot afford to travel.
In Oregon, abortion is legal, accessible and safe. As your senator, I will continue to be a champion for reproductive rights, abortion access and unfettered access to health care.
I would be honored to have your vote by Nov. 8.
Janeen Sollman is state senator for Senate District 15, including Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Cornelius. A Democrat, she lives in Hillsboro.
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