Oregon Faith Leaders Come Together for Abortion Justice

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears a pivotal case that could overturn Roe vs. Wade, leaders and members of Oregon’s faith community — voices often overlooked in the fight to defend reproductive freedom — gathered December 1st at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland in of support for abortion access, honoring the dignity and worth of every person who seeks care, and calling upon the Supreme Court to uphold this fundamental right.

Speakers included Rabbi Rachel Joseph of Congregation Beth Israel, a Board Member of Planned Parenthood of Oregon; State Senator Kayse Jama; the Rev. Bill Sinkford of First Unitarian Portland; the Rev. Dr. Deb Patterson, a State Senator who serves as a minister at United Church of Christ in the Mid-Willamette Valley; the Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie of United Church of Christ; and the Rev. Eilidh Lowry, Portland Public School Board Chair and pastor at United Methodist Church’s Southeast Portland Parish. Other attendees came from across the state, including Bend and Eugene. 

In 2021, a record-breaking number of anti-abortion and anti-transgender bills have been introduced and enacted in state legislatures across the nation. 

Texas is already providing a glimpse of what a post-Roe world could look like. Politicians there passed a heinous law banning abortion at six weeks, decimating access to abortion in the state. Due to structural racism and inequities, abortion restrictions disproportionately harm Black, Brown and Indigenous people; LGBTQ+ people; young people; immigrants; people with low incomes; and those living in rural areas.

This week the court will hear oral arguments in a case that challenges Mississippi’s cruel 15-week abortion ban and that could upend nearly 50 years of precedent. If Roe is overturned, abortion access will be jeopardized for nearly half of the people who can become pregnant in the United States. 

“The sacred right to bodily autonomy and the human right to health care are under attack like never before. We are in the fight of our lives,” says An Do, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. “In this moment of crisis, we are so grateful for faith leaders who proudly affirm and fight for the moral agency of people seeking abortions, their bodily autonomy and their moral authority to make reproductive decisions. Because justice can’t be achieved until every person can make their own decisions about their bodies, their lives and their futures.”

If states like Idaho are allowed to ban abortion, studies show that Oregon health centers would see a 234% increase in out-of-state patients forced to travel long distances for care. And even though abortion is protected in Oregon statute, Eastern Oregonians could see up to a 35% decrease in abortion access because of the longer travel burden.