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‘It’s super scary’: Oregon advocates say Roe reversal will fall heavily on low-income, minority women

This decision ends nearly 50 years of guaranteed access to abortion across the U.S. and is expected to precede abortion bans in roughly half the states.

PORTLAND, Ore. — After learning that the Supreme Court will jettison decades of precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade, the message that Oregon abortion-rights advocates tried to get across Friday was that this decision will have long-term consequences for women, but not all women equally.

The decision, they stressed, will disproportionately impact minority women — those from communities of color, those from low-income backgrounds, LGBTQ+ people, young people, those from rural or tribal communities — many of whom advocates said already face limited access to health care. Now it will be even harder for them to have their reproductive rights met.

“The decision today is oppressive, dangerous and undemocratic,” said Sandy Chung, executive director for ACLU of Oregon

“Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, abortion is still legal in Oregon. If you have an appointment, keep it. If you need an appointment, go to abortionfinder.org to find care,” added An Do, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Oregon, during a zoom press conference with abortion rights advocates Friday morning.

While abortion remains legal in Oregon, local women will still feel the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Many local clinics, such as the Lilith Clinic in Southwest Portland, are now bracing for a surge in out-of-state patients. 

“We know that the impact of this decision is going to be felt immediately and what we are doing at the Lilith Clinic is just trying to put our heads down, stay focused on our patients, make sure they get the best care possible,” said Grayson Dempsey, spokesperson for the Lilith Clinic.

Currently a quarter of the Lilith’s patients come from out of state, a number that’s only going to increase.

“I think no matter how much you prepare for a moment like this you can never really expect it,” said Dempsey.

“They have failed this country — the court is stealing our power to control our own bodies, our lives and personal medical decisions and handing that over to politicians,” Do said. 

Do added that abortion is healthcare and the fight for equal access to that care will continue.

“We have been preparing for this moment,” she said.

“Abortion bans are racists, sexist and classist and intentionally designed to control the lives and bodies of people who can become pregnant in this country,” said Christel Allen, executive director at Pro-Choice Oregon.

Advocates argue that many of the ones most impacted by this decision are young people like 23-year-old Chala Shiroma.

“No one’s safe, is the thing,” said Shiroma. “I’m someone who would be directly affected if I ever have to look for resources for abortion or anything regarding my uterus. I have no autonomy over [it] anymore — luckily we’re in Oregon, but other states can’t say the same thing. It's super scary.”

However, for anti-abortion advocates, Friday was a victory decades in the making.

“It’s an incredible day and we weren’t sure it would ever happen,” said Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life

According to polls conducted by the Associated Press, most Americans are in favor of preserving Roe. About 1 in 10 Americans want abortion to be illegal in all cases.

“I think it’s a really hopeful future where we are giving really such value to unborn babies and I hope that ... I know for us, the pro-life movement in Oregon, we are committed to helping mothers during and post-pregnancy, and we can stop having a conflict over abortion,” said Anderson.

“This is far from over. Generations before us have fought tirelessly to gain and protect the rights we have today — we will not back down, we will not stop fighting,” Do said.

The Biden administration warning Friday that overturning Roe also threatens other high court decisions when it comes to gay rights, even contraception. Local advocates are looking for donations to increase abortion services in Oregon and there are gatherings and protests planned throughout the weekend.

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