Governor stands firm: Local access to abortion will stay
The governors of Oregon, Washington and California today issued a commitment to defend access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives, and committed to protecting patients and doctors against efforts by other states to enforce their abortion bans in our states.
The announcement comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's Friday decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has provided reproductive rights for nearly 50 years.
"The sweeping decision means that for patients in more than half the country, home to 33.6 million women, abortion care is illegal or inaccessible," the governors said in a written statement.
"Let me be clear: You cannot ban abortion, you can only ban safe abortions — and this disgraceful Supreme Court decision will undoubtedly put many people's lives at risk." — Gov. Kate Brown.
"Abortion is health care, and no matter who you are or where you come from, Oregon doesn't turn away anyone seeking health care. Period," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said. "Let me be clear: You cannot ban abortion, you can only ban safe abortions — and this disgraceful Supreme Court decision will undoubtedly put many people's lives at risk, in addition to stripping away a constitutional right that disproportionately affects women and has been settled law for most of our lifetimes."
Brown added, "For all the Americans today feeling scared, angry and disappointed — for everyone who needs an abortion and does not know where they can access safe reproductive health care —— please know you are not alone, and the fight is not over."
Over the past several years, all three western states have taken action to expand access to reproductive health care in preparation for just such a decision. Oregon led the nation by passing, at the time, the nation's most comprehensive reproductive health legislation. Brown signed Oregon's Reproductive Health Equity Act into law in 2017 — a first-of-its-kind bill that expanded access to reproductive health services for all Oregonians and codified the right to an abortion into state law.
Oregon also invested $15 million for community-based organizations to expand access to abortion across the state and to provide immediate support to patients, health care providers and community advocates, with a focus on rural communities, communities of color, and low-income communities to overcome barriers to access.
In 2018, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Reproductive Parity Act that requires all health plans that include maternity care services to also cover abortion and contraception. In 2021, he signed the Protecting Pregnancy Act that allows doctors who practice in Catholic-run hospitals to bypass ethical-religious directives and provide medically necessary abortion when a woman's life is in danger.
"The law remains unchanged in Washington state," Inslee said, "but the threat to patient access and privacy has never been more dangerous. Even in Washington state, Republicans have introduced about 40 bills in the past six years to roll back abortion rights and access to reproductive care."
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a $125 million Reproductive Health Package to expand access for women and help prepare for the influx of women seeking reproductive health care from other states. The California Legislature has introduced a constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. Newsom also recently signed legislation eliminating copays for abortion-care services and has signed into law a legislative package to further strengthen access and protect patients and providers.
"The Supreme Court has made it clear — they want to strip women of their liberty and let Republican states replace it with mandated birth because the right to choose an abortion is not 'deeply rooted in history,'" Newsom said on Friday. "They want to turn back the clock to a time when women had no right to make decisions about their own bodies, when women had to seek care in the shadows and at great danger, when women were not treated as equal citizens under the law."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.