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Guest Opinion: Central Oregonians Deserve Abortion Justice

A case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court this month could unravel the constitutional right to abortion

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We’re at a crisis point.

A case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court this month could unravel the constitutional right to abortion. There is no “middle ground,” either: If the court allows Mississippi’s 15-week ban to stand, it will erase nearly 50 years of precedent and overturn Roe vs. Wade—leaving nearly half the people of reproductive age in the United States without access to abortion.

While abortion rights are safeguarded in Oregon statute, our state would be directly impacted. As an “abortion access point,” Oregon would see a dramatic 234% increase in patients from Idaho and Nevada, according to a recent study. Another analysis shows that Eastern Oregonians would experience a 35% decrease in abortion access because of longer travel to the nearest provider in Bend.
Let’s be clear: Abortion is essential health care. Nobody should be forced to drive hundreds of miles to get the care they need. The vast majority of Oregonians support abortion justice—and we will not stand for this political interference.

Even with Roe in place, abortion is out of reach for millions. The ability to access safe, legal abortion is still determined by where you live and how much money you have—and that effectively also means the color of your skin. Deeply rooted racism, coercive reproductive policies and abortion stigma create barriers for far too many people when they try to make their own decisions about continuing or ending a pregnancy.

ELVERT BARNES/FLICKR
  • Elvert Barnes/Flickr

For too long, this country has divested Black, Indigenous and Immigrant communities — leading to dramatic healthcare disparities. As a result, abortion restrictions disproportionately harm BIPOC people, people in rural areas, low-income people, LGBTQ2SIA+ people, young people and people with disabilities. The U.S. public health infrastructure has failed our communities.

Despite the continuing political attacks, the compassionate doctors, advanced practice clinicians and staff at Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette’s Bend Health Center continue to provide lifesaving cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, birth control, gender-affirming care and sex education to those who rely on us. We work every day to remove barriers to access for all of our patients—and we will be here for the next generation and the generation after that.

In addition, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon recently launched a local chapter of Raíz, which mobilizes Latinx people to advocate for their rights, gain agency for immigrant communities, participate in year-round civic engagement and drive local initiatives that center the needs of Latinx communities. Immigrants from the Latinx community don’t live single-issue lives, so our work includes voting rights, racial justice, housing justice, environmental justice and so much more.

Our work won’t stop until abortion and reproductive health are accessible for all — no matter who you are or where you live. No one is free unless they control their own body.

liliana cabrera is an Education and Outreach Coordinator at Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette. To make an appointment visit PPCW.org.

Mariana Paredones is a Raíz Fellow Organizer at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. For more information visit instagram.com/raizoregon.

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