PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the nation grips with the uncertainty of abortion access after a draft ruling from the Supreme Court was leaked, not much changes in Oregon, legally speaking. The reality for health care providers, however, could be drastically different, according to several pro-choice organizations.
On Monday, a leaked draft of a ruling authored by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito showed the court was prepared to fully reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which struck down government restrictions around women’s access to abortion. Since then, it’s been considered precedent, though Republican State legislatures across the country have passed laws of their own, poking at the decision and eroding its broad scope.
Currently, Oregon and Washington are some of the 16 states that have enshrined the protections laid out in the original Roe v. Wade into state law. Thirteen other states, including neighboring Idaho, have ‘trigger laws’ that would ban or severely restrict access to abortion.
Advocates see a reality of people from more restrictive states seeking care in places like Oregon.
“As the system is put under more stress with additional folks traveling to our state, we need to make sure that the system is working for folks in Oregon, many of whom are not able to receive that access easily,” said Christel Allen, the Executive Director for Pro-Choice Oregon.
Another pro-choice advocate, Kalpana Krishanamurthy who is the Oregon Director for Foward Together, notes with a few clinics in central Oregon, many Oregonians in the rural stretches of the state have to turn to Boise for access to abortion.
Pro-choice advocates say, when it comes to traveling for care, that is a luxury available, often for just the people that can afford to take the time off and cover the cost of making it to a clinic.
“It just does disproportionately impact those folks that have to travel the furthest, that have the fewest resources, that need to arrange childcare for their loves, and for whom, those structural supports are just not available,” Krishnamurthy said.
Washington State Senator John Braun, a Republican representing the southwest area of the state, says he’s pro-life and, regardless of what the Supreme Court does, believes people on both sides of the debate can agree that the goal is to reduce the number of procedures.
In Oregon, there were nearly 15,000 abortions conducted in 2000 and 6,051 in 2021. Braun doesn’t believe a judicial decision has an impact on the number of procedures conducted.
“You reduce the number of abortions as you deal with each situation uniquely, make sure that each person has the services and the options presented to them and they get the support they need and deserve,” Braun said.
The 98-page opinion was authored by a long-time conservative staple on the bench, Justice Samuel Alito. In his reasoning, the draft notes “the constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…”
Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat representing Washington State in the nation’s capital, plans to introduce laws to protect abortion access across the country next week.
“If [Alito] defines this as the reason that he’s going to overturn Roe v. Wade, and be supported by a majority of Supreme Court justices, it’s not the only right that they intend to take away,” Murray said.