Donations sought for Oregon's Reproductive Health Equity Fund
Abortion advocacy groups are seeking donations to Oregon's recently enacted Reproductive Health Equity Fund, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's Friday, June 24, decision that ended guaranteed access to abortion.
The fund was established with $15 million from the Oregon Legislature and now is open to donations to expand funding.
The Reproductive Health Equity Fund, a byproduct of the Reproductive Health Equity Act, helps pay for abortion services, including travel expenses if needed, to Oregonians and those in neighboring states who rely on Oregon facilities for reproductive health care services. It currently is being administered by Seeding Justice via grants to organizations that already provide abortions.
"We are grateful to live in a state that has prioritized access to reproductive health care for everyone who needs it," Se-ah-dom Edmo, executive director of Seeding Justice, said Friday during a joint media briefing with the ACLU of Oregon, Planned Parenthood Advocates, Pro-Choice Oregon and the Northwest Abortion Access Fund. "This fund is one way that our state is … protecting and fulfilling reproductive rights."
The first $1 million will be released to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, with additional grants being distributed as soon as possible, Edmo said.
Edmo said the fund will help ensure access to abortion, contraceptives and gender-affirming care, especially for marginalized communities who face more barriers to health care access.
"While $15 million is a strong foundation that will allow us to be responsive to our communities, we also know that needs will only continue to (increase). I'm therefore here to announce that the Reproductive Health Equity Fund is open to receive additional donations. We call on individual contributors in the philanthropic community to help us grow the fund and maximize our reach and impact."
Organization leaders said Friday they've seen a spike in need for abortion assistance since 2020. They expect the number of people trying to obtain abortions in Oregon will jump by 235%, when those from out of state are factored in.
"Access is not access if you cannot afford it or get to your appointment. That is what abortion funds are for," Megan Kovacs with the Northwest Abortion Access Fund said Friday. "We have already seen a 78% increase in the need for abortion funding from 2020 to 2021."
An Do, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, slammed the Supreme Court's decision, but noted, "we have been preparing for this moment."
"The Supreme Court has overturned Roe vs. Wade and nearly 50 years of precedent, eliminating the federal constitutional right to abortion and opening the floodgates for states to ban abortion," Do said. "They have failed this country. The court is stealing our power to control our own bodies, our lives and personal medical decisions and handing that over to politicians."
Currently, 13 states, including Idaho, have trigger bans in place, which will make it illegal to obtain an abortion in those areas. Idaho's law makes it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion except for cases of rape or incest, if the crime was previously reported to police, or if the pregnancy jeopardizes the mother's life.
Advocates said Oregon is likely to see an influx of Idaho residents seeking abortions, but it's unclear if Idaho will take its ban further, by criminalizing patients who receive an abortion, or those who assist Idaho residents in obtaining one.
"What is clear is that nothing is safe," Do said, cautioning that even though Oregon codified abortion into its laws, that could change if elected leaders chose to repeal it.
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