Oregon Investment in Reproductive Equity Will Mitigate Harm of a Post-Roe Reality
During the final days of the 2022 Oregon legislative session, Speaker Dan Rayfield led the passage of House Bill 5202, which established the Oregon Reproductive Equity Fund with a $15 million allocation. This first-of-its-kind investment will be administered by Seeding Justice, and will provide meaningful and immediate support to patients, health providers and community advocates to prepare for Idaho’s imminent passage of a six-week abortion ban and an anticipated Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Oregon Democrats also see this investment in healthcare infrastructure and equity as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support Oregon’s workforce and address reproductive health disparities by investing in culturally specific health outreach and education programs.
Advocates in all 50 states are preparing for the fallout of a Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that would result in the end of nearly 50 years of constitutional protections, and would open the door to a deluge of state abortion restrictions and bans going into effect. With 26 states poised to severely restrict or outright ban access to abortion, more than half of people of reproductive age in the United States are at risk of losing access to abortion care.
Idaho is positioned to become the first state to copy restrictive Texas Senate Bill 8, which has prohibited most abortions in the state for the past six months. On March 14, the Idaho Legislature passed a Republican bill to ban abortion after six weeks and allow family members of the patient to sue a provider for $20,000. Idaho Governor Brad Little is expected to sign the bill into law.
When the Idaho abortion ban goes into effect, Eastern Oregonians who rely on Boise as the closest health center could see an up to 35% decrease in access to care. In an analysis of SCOTUS allowing a 15-week ban to go into effect, the Guttmacher Institute estimates a potential 234% increase in people traveling to Oregon for abortion care.
Administered by Seeding Justice, the fund will establish a robust and transparent community-informed process, with ongoing support provided to community partners.
Upon the announcement of this investment, Speaker Rayfield said:
“Oregonians support bold solutions needed to break down barriers and ensure abortion — and the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services — is available, affordable and supported for anyone who needs it. With this investment, we are making a strong commitment to protect people in our state from draconian laws and court rulings at the federal level, and we can mitigate harm caused by abortion bans passed by anti-abortion politicians in neighboring states.”
Executive director of Seeding Justice, Se-ah-dom Edmo shared the following in response:
“With this $15 million, Seeding Justice is honored to have the opportunity to lead real, meaningful impact in communities hardest hit by abortion bans in neighboring states, the Hyde and Weldon amendments, and the economic impacts of the global pandemic. Barriers to abortion care have a disproportionate impact on people already facing multiple layers of discrimination: Those with low incomes, people of color, young people, immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals and people who live in rural communities are most impacted by these barriers.”
Christel Allen, executive director of Pro-Choice Oregon, said:
“We have so much to be thankful for this session. In the face of six Supreme Court Justices bent on upholding draconian laws that will cause profound harm to millions of pregnant people, Oregon state leaders are sending a bold message in response: Not on our watch. I am proud to live in the only state that is dedicating resources to community-led efforts to defend — and expand — access to reproductive freedom to people who are most impacted during these challenging times.”
An Do, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said:
“Abortion bans are part of a long legacy in this country of efforts to control people’s bodies, families, freedoms and futures. Because of layering systems of oppressions, Black and Brown pregnant people bear the brunt when abortion is restricted or criminalized. In a year when the Supreme Court is poised to unravel the constitutional right to an abortion, I am so grateful to Oregon lawmakers for their bold leadership and commitment to patients. The Reproductive Health Equity Fund is a critical investment to advancing health equity and addressing the existing and emerging geographic, economic, structural, systemic and legal barriers Oregonians and individuals coming to our state face in accessing reproductive health care.”
Kalpana Krishnamurthy, state program director with Forward Together, said:
“In a time when reproductive health and rights are under attack at the federal level and we see new attacks in states across the country, the Reproductive Health Equity Fund is a strong statement by Oregon leaders that we will commit the resources it takes to ensure reproductive health access for all Oregonians. Oregonians who are closest to the folks facing barriers to reproductive health know what is needed in their communities, and this fund puts community-based organizations and leaders in the driver’s seat to help get those resources into our communities.”
Sandy Chung, executive director of ACLU of Oregon, said:
“Laws that prevent people from making their own decisions about whether to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion amount to forced pregnancy. Policies that force people to remain pregnant and give birth are unconscionable, cruel and dangerous. Lives and futures are at stake. The harm of these policies fall hardest on people who already face systemic racism and discrimination in this country, including people of color, people who are undocumented, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ people, as well as people who are young, have low-incomes or live in rural areas. The ACLU of Oregon recognizes Oregon
lawmakers for standing against forced pregnancy.”
Beth Vial, board member of the Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF), said:
“Abortion funds provide mutual aid and other practical and emotional support to people experiencing financial and logistical barriers to abortion access. With additional capacity, NWAAF is thankful for the opportunity to support more people who are experiencing barriers here in Oregon, as well as to people who live in Idaho and other states who now may be forced to travel here in order to receive essential health care.”
Funds will be used to address immediate and urgent patient needs for abortion funds and practical support (travel, lodging, etc.) and to expand provider network capacity. It will advance long-term reproductive equity by supporting key investments in capital, infrastructure, workforce, outreach, engagement and other strategies to address unmet patient needs and shrink reproductive healthcare access deserts.