PORTLAND, Ore. — In the wake of a Supreme Court decision that upturned abortion rights nationwide, the fight to keep that care accessible continues here in Oregon. Abortion rights advocates gathered at Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland Sunday morning to try and motivate the community ahead of the November election.
“We're here because we are hopeful for a future where people are able to make their own medical decisions and access the care that they need,” said An Do, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.
Earlier in the summer, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which established a person’s constitutional right to an abortion. While abortion is protected under law in Oregon, the decision has nonetheless rippled through the region.
“We need to continue to show up — if the last six years have shown us anything, we can't take anything for granted,” said Do.
Among those who showed up for abortion rights Sunday morning was 79-year-old Ellen Wedum.
“I want to support the cause, and the more people present the more support,” Wedum said. She spent most her life protesting and advocating for a woman's right to choose. “I go to as many events that are pro-choice events that I can.”
Wedum said she still waits for the day when the fight for reproductive rights is over.
“It's a shame to me that we still feel that we have to do this,” she said of Sunday’s event. “Abortion should be legal in the whole country and there shouldn't be any fighting about it anymore. People should just accept it, that a woman should be able to make her own choices about whether she's going to carry a baby or not.”
Wedum’s daughter, Melora Golden, was also at the event — following in her mother's footsteps.
“My mother taught me about justice,” said Golden. “We have a lot of political freedom — even though some people don't feel like it, we have a lot of power in this country to impact the rules that govern us and have a responsibility to take it.”
Abortion is beginning to shape the November election. According to the most recent polling from DHM Research, cited Saturday by The Oregonian, more and more Democratic voters in Oregon are rating abortion as the most important issue when it comes to picking a new Governor.
“It makes total sense, I’m not surprised. Oregonians have time and time again shown up to the ballot box to protect abortion care here in Oregon.”
In the survey by DHM research, which looked at 500 likely Oregon voters, 16% of Democrats rated abortion as the number one issue they'll take into consideration when voting for governor. That's up from 1% in January. As for republicans, 5% of voters considered abortion their top issue compared to 4% in January.
“Abortion is absolutely top of mind with voters right now here in Oregon and across the nation,” said Christel Allen, the executive director of Pro-Choice Oregon.
Abortion advocates want to remind people that regardless of the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion is legal in Oregon. However, according to recent polling, 58% of Oregon voters support banning abortion in the third trimester, unless it is to save the mother's life.
“For the first time in history, we have lost a constitutional right,” said Allen. “That anger is real, but also this is our chance to come together as an entire movement to recognize that Roe was never enough and the only way that we are going to get true reproductive freedom for everyone is by recognizing that until everyone is free none of us are.”
“I try to do something in my little way, which is all people can do. Just get out there and do something,” said Wedum.