U.S. Supreme Court overturns reproductive rights
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling Friday, June 24, which has protected women's reproductive rights for nearly half a century.
A leaked document had foreshadowed the seismic shift in the court, which had upheld other reproductive rights cases in the decades following Roe.
The high court on Friday eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion, which leaves the questions of abortion to the states, not the federal government. The ruling was on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy; about two months earlier than what has been allowed under Supreme Court precedent dating back to Roe.
In Oregon, reaction to the Supreme Court's ruling was swift.
Gov. Kate Brown and the governors of Washington and California issued a joint statement to protect women's right to access abortion and contraceptives.
"When you have to make the most intimate, personal decisions that will impact your life and your health and body, I don't know anyone who wants some politician in the room," U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley said in a statement. "Yet, that is exactly the impact of this Supreme Court opinion for millions and millions of Americans, who suddenly find an overbearing government dictating their path. This assault on Americans' rights and freedom is shocking."
He was joined by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whose district includes much of Portland. "Today I join millions of Americans feeling the shocking loss of reproductive freedom in our country," he said. "This is not merely a political or legal issue. This is profoundly personal, speaking to an individual's right to control their body and rely on a half-century of legal, constitutional certainty."
Oregon's only female member of Congress, Suzanne Bonamici, also decried the ruling.
"The Supreme Court's decision to overturn abortion rights is infuriating, heartbreaking and dangerous. Abortion is health care. Abortion care is essential for the health and wellbeing of families and communities. I remember the days before Roe v. Wade, when abortions done without medical care could have tragic outcomes — including death.… We will not let this decision stop our fight to make abortion care accessible and available to all. I have helped the House pass legislation to put Roe v. Wade into law, and I will continue doing all I can to get it over the finish line."
Oregon Legislators weighed in, as well.
"I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to return this issue back to the states," said House Republican Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville. "Oregon continues to have some of the most extreme abortion laws in the country."
Democrats took the other side of the argument. "This will go down as an incredibly dark day in American history," said Speaker of the House Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis. "Let's be clear about the stakes: The extreme Dobbs decision will make women and individuals across the country less safe. It will harm millions of people, most specifically people of color and low-income individuals, and worsen existing inequality."
House Majority Leader Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, wrote, "My generation has never known a world where we did not have the right to a safe, legal abortion. Until today."
Rep. Zach Hudson, D-Troutdale, spoke about how the decision will hurt millions across the country.
"I am dismayed by today's ruling. Everyone should have the right to decide if and when they have children, based on what's best for them and their family's circumstances," he said. "Abortion is still safe, legal and affordable because of protections we've passed in recent years (in Oregon). Now, we are committed to expanding abortion access and protecting this fundamental right."
Sen. Chris Gorsek, D-Gresham, said the decision by the Supreme Court wasn't a surprise due to the makeup of the judges.
"I believe it is a terrible step backwards for reproductive rights," Gorsek said. "Please support Oregon legislators who oppose this misstep by the US Supreme Court and will fight to protect those rights here in Oregon."
Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham, wrote about taking proactive measures in appointing judges who reflect the views of their constituents.
"My heart is heavy knowing that future generations of Americans already have less rights than I did growing up," Ruiz wrote. "My purpose for wanting to serve all Oregonians is to make sure that they have better lives than they did before and I am terrified of the persecution of Americans that could follow for having received an abortion in the future and don't want anyone to experience fear of persecution for the right to choose."
Gresham City Council President Eddy Morales spoke of standing up and fighting for the rights of women and all individuals who can become pregnant.
"As an elected official in Oregon — the state with the strongest protections for abortion access and care — I know that Oregon has a responsibility to lead," Morales said. "Many women, patients, and individuals will turn to Oregon in the weeks ahead — and we must meet them with compassion, support, and resilience."
The ruling has begun roiling November's general election. Both candidates for Oregon's 5th Congressional District spoke out early Friday.
Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer praised the ruling. "The Supreme Court is allowing the states to legislate on this critically important issue, where it should have been in the first place," she said. "As a mom of twin daughters, I deeply value life; here in Oregon, we have some of the most extreme abortion laws in the country with no restrictions whatsoever."
Her November opponent, Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, took the opposite position. "Extremist politics has won the day over our fundamental right to make decisions about our own bodies," she said. "History will hang its head on this somber step backwards by the U.S. Supreme Court majority. We know this ruling will negatively impact the health and wellbeing of so many Americans — we also know it is just the first step for this extremist court."
All three candidates for Oregon governor — Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and independent Betsy Johnson — issued statements on Friday morning. Kotek and Johnson, both pro-choice, opposed the High Court's ruling. Drazansaid that, if elected, she would veto "legislation designed to push Oregon further outside the mainstream."
Dr. Carrie Frederick Miles, chairwoman of the Oregon Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, issued a statement. "Todays decision in Dobbs v Jackson is a destructive setback for Ob-gyns and our patients," she wrote. "Our resolve, however, is unwavering. We stand ready to continue to provide safe, compassionate and legal abortion care in Oregon. We also pledge to continue to support all people who struggle against laws and regulations that interfere with the physician-patient relationship and block access to essential health care."
Oregon protects reproductive rights
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan released a statement reminding Oregonians that abortion remains legal in Oregon and those living in other parts of the country can travel to Oregon to get an abortion.
California and Washington also protect reproductive rights by codifying them into law.
"While our rights are protected in Oregon, today's decision will have devastating consequences around the country," Fagan said. "This is a difficult day and many of us are concerned for our communities and our children. We are in this together though. I've been in this struggle to support access to abortion and I'll continue to be no matter what."
However, several Republicans in Washington, D.C., have called for a federal ban on abortions, should Republicans take the White House and Congress. It is not clear how this Supreme Court would rule on such a sweeping ban.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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