PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the landmark Roe v. Wade case of 1973 overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, the decision of whether to outlaw abortion now falls to the states, 13 of which already had trigger laws in place to restrict or ban it.
However, some states have laws in place meant to protect the right to abortion regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. Oregon is one of those states.
In Oregon, abortion is legal at any time during pregnancy. In fact, Oregon doesn’t have any of the major restrictions on abortion sometimes found in other states, such as waiting periods or mandated involvement of a parent.
A bill passed and signed by Gov. Kate Brown into law in 2017 specifically ensured women access to reproductive health services, including abortion. The Reproductive Health Equity Act also requires private health insurance plans in Oregon to provide coverage for abortion with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
The Oregon Health Authority issued a reminder that anyone visiting the state will also have the right to access.
“The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade does not change the fact that people in Oregon are guaranteed the right to receive abortion services, which remain legal in this state,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen in a press release. “OHA will continue to implement and promote RHEA to ensure that people in Oregon have access to essential reproductive health services, including abortion, sterilization and contraceptives, without any barriers.”
On Friday, House Democrats in the state said Oregon could experience a 234% increase in people traveling to the state for abortion services.
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon’s 1st Congressional District released a statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling to undo the nearly 50-year-old decision, calling it “infuriating, heartbreaking and dangerous.”
“I remember the days before Roe v. Wade, when abortions done without medical care could have tragic outcomes – including death,” Bonamici said in the release. “The decision today undermines decades of hard-fought protections for reproductive health and the right to determine when and whether to have a child. Make no mistake, overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortions; it will make them unsafe. This decision will disproportionately hurt families and individuals who are already struggling, and, unfortunately, it will embolden many states to restrict access to the care people need.”
Oregon, however, did away with penalties for abortion long before the 2017 law was enacted. As Peter Wong reports with KOIN 6 News partner Pamplin Media Group, Oregon lawmakers removed the penalties for abortion back in 1969, four years before the Supreme Court made its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
Secretary of State Shemia Fagan reminded Oregonians of their rights in a statement released Friday.
“While our rights are protected in Oregon, today’s decision will have devastating consequences around the country,” Fagan said. “This is a difficult day and many of us are concerned for our communities and our children. We are in this together though. I’ve been in this struggle to support access to abortion and I’ll continue to be no matter what.”
Just across the state border in Idaho, a “trigger law” had been passed in preparation. Trigger laws are laws that were passed so that should the landmark Roe v. Wade case be overturned, as it was on Friday, abortion would be either restricted or banned immediately or after a given time in the future.
Idaho’s law threatens to level felony charges against any provider who would perform or attempt to perform an abortion, carrying with it a possible penalty of two to five years in prison and license suspension or revocation.
However, in Oregon and Washington, no such law exists and those seeking abortions or physicians who would provide services are legally protected.
KOIN 6 News reporter Lisa Balick contributed to this report.