Oregon’s Democratic U.S. senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader came together Friday in downtown Portland after a Planned Parenthood event to speak against abortion restrictions happening in other states.
“We are here collectively to send a message that reproductive care is health care, that access to a safe abortion is health care, that health care is a right, and we stand together to fight for that right and we’re going to win,” Merkley said.
Bonamici, the sole woman in Oregon’s congressional delegation, recalled when she was in high school before the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision granted people legal access to abortion.
“Wealthy women, they might have been able to find an abortion, but women without resources and terrified teens who are afraid to talk to their parents, they would resort to self-help or a back alley, and women died,” she said. “We’re not going to go back. We must not go back. Access to abortion is a matter of health care, and it’s a matter of life and death.”
Bonamici and the other lawmakers talked about Oregon’s status as a state mostly safe from anti-abortion legislation.
Bonamici specifically talked about legal action Oregon leaders have taken against the Trump administration’s proposed restrictions on Title X — a program that provides federal funding to family planning clinics. The restrictions were seeking to cut funding to abortion providers.
“We are very fortunate here in Oregon,” she said. “We have Gov. Kate Brown and our Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum who have sued the Trump administration over this gag rule that would dictate what doctors can and can’t say to their patients.”
Brown and Rosenblum joined 20 states and the District of Columbia in the lawsuit. Last month, a federal judge in Oregon issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prevented the Trump administration’s restrictions from going into effect.
On Friday, Brown, along with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, sent a letter to fellow governors across the country asking them to review state laws related to reproductive health and enact protections and policies.
Wyden reiterated that Oregon lawmakers would continue to fight for anyone affected by restrictions on reproductive health care.
“We’ve got a message for the heartless politicians who want to turn back the clock,” he said. “Our message is we know that you are trying to make a direct assault on civil rights. We know that what you want to do is force America to lurch back to the days when women weren’t in control. We’re not going to let it happen, because we live in America, not in an episode of the 'Handmaid’s Tale.’”
Schrader also voiced his support in continuing the nationwide fight against abortion restrictions.
“We’re going to have to keep up the battle to make sure that women’s reproductive health is treated as women’s basic health care and that a bunch of white men can’t decide what sort of health care women are going to get,” he said. “It should be their decision, their choice, and we’re going to keep it that way.”