The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade yesterday puts the power to allow or ban abortions in the hands of state governments. In Oregon and Washington, abortion remains an entirely legal health procedure, protected by state law. But this is not the case in several other states, here abortion clinics are already closing.
OPB health reporter Amelia Templeton joined “All Things Considered” host Tiffany Camhi to discuss the impact the decision could have on the North West.
Tiffany Camhi: Amelia, this Supreme Court decision will not affect abortion access in Oregon or Washington. Can you explain why?
Amelie Templeton: Yes. This decision means that states are responsible for developing their own laws regarding access to abortion. Oregon and Washington allow it extensively. There are no waiting times, no parental consent requirements for minors. And you don’t have to be a resident of Oregon or Washington to legally get an abortion here, or any other type of healthcare, for that matter.
In fact, Governor Kate Brown, Governor Jay Inslee, and the Governor of California today announced that the three states intend to work together to protect West Coast abortion providers and patients.
camhi. It’s interesting. Can you tell me more about this joint West Coast Governors announcement?
Templeton: This amounts to trying to strengthen various kinds of legal protections around abortion providers and their patients in Oregon.
Related: West Coast Governors Pledge to Defend Abortion Rights
They said they would resist intrusion by out-of-state prosecutors or law enforcement trying to investigate patients who receive services in our state, with measures such as asking local prosecutors and law enforcement not to cooperate with other states on arrests or prosecutions related to Abortion.
But I think we really have to take this as a political statement with a grain of salt, because abortion opponents and abortion proponents have said there’s huge uncertainty right now.
The director of Planned Parenthood described this as a new world where what was established as law and precedent has been completely overturned, and the legal landscape is one of mass confusion.
Related: Idaho to ban most abortions after US Supreme Court ruling
The ACLU said it is still considering the potential risks people in Oregon — doctors, friends — might face if they help someone from Idaho travel to get an abortion here.
These are complicated and difficult legal issues and there is enormous uncertainty at the moment.
camhi: Let’s take a step back here. The court’s decision comes after decades of strategizing by abortion opponents. How are Oregon’s anti-abortion organizations reacting today?
Templeton. They believe that Roe was cast badly and that it was the right decision.
I spoke with Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life. She said she had dedicated her entire adult life to this and didn’t know if she would live to see this day, and her band did not see this as the end. They will continue to work on policy at the state level, such as pushing to ban abortions later in pregnancy in Oregon.
She was very clear. “It’s not the end for us,” she said.
Lois Anderson: This is just the beginning and it is our responsibility to… search within our communities for mothers who are in unsupported pregnancies or who are in situations where they need help. It is up to us to walk alongside them.
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camhi: And what do you hear from the people on the other side of the debate, the advocates of the right to abortion?
Templeton: Some things. First of all, it’s a bad decision. That this was a political decision by the Supreme Court and that it deprived women of their autonomy.
Here’s how An Do, with Planned Parenthood, described what the court did for people who may have pregnancies:
A do: They have let this country down. The court is stealing our own power to control our own bodies, lives and personal medical decisions and handing it over to politicians.
Templeton: I also heard that for people who have money and family connections, abortion may now be more embarrassing, something that people travel to another state to seek.
But for many others – pregnant teenagers, victims of domestic violence, women of color, poor women in rural areas – they may simply not have the resources to travel. And so they will end up having children against their will, in situations that they did not want.
I think the last thing advocates are saying is that, despite everything, abortion clinics across the state remain open and continue to see patients, including today.
camhi: Amelia, thank you for your report on this subject.