PORTLAND, Ore. — In the wake of the leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively ending nationwide abortion rights protection, national and local polling is shedding light on how Oregon and Washington voters feel about the issue.
In January of this year, 67% of Oregon voters polled told local pollsters DHM Research that abortion would be a "very" or "somewhat important factor" in determining who they would vote for as governor, but abortion ranked last when voters were asked which of 13 issues would be most important in determining their vote.
With the leaked draft, it's likely those feelings have changed for some people. That could be beneficial for Democrats in November, added KGW political analyst Len Bergstein.
"The good news is its confrontative and it jolts everybody," said Bergstein. "The bad news is it will get absorbed into the body politic and it may not be quite as dramatic in November as it is right here in May."
At both the state and national level, Democrats are using the news to energize voters. Bergstein expects that to continue until November.
"My guts tell me this is a big issue. This helps define for Democrats what the stakes are, in a way that they have not been able to define why the voters should care enough to vote for them."
A compilation of polls by the New York Times found that in Oregon, roughly 62% of people said abortion should be legal or mostly legal, while 35% said it should be mostly illegal. In Washington, those numbers are 61% and 34%, respectively.
Nationwide, more abortions are performed with medication than surgery. The use of abortion pills has risen steadily, with 54% of abortions in 2020 performed with medication, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a policy think tank focused on reproductive rights.
In 2021, the FDA lifted a restriction that required patients to get the pills in-person and now allows them to be sent via mail. A group called Abortion on Demand provides legal telehealth abortion appointments in 21 states, including Oregon and Washington. The service does not operate outside these states. Its website notes that it gets abortion pills to people who need them as quickly and safely as possible.
The Oregon Legislature recently approved $15 million to expand abortion care in Oregon, though none has been distributed yet. It is aimed at helping women who are low-income, or live in rural areas far from clinics, particularly in Eastern Oregon. The closest clinic for many in Eastern Oregon is in Boise, but Idaho's trigger law will outlaw abortion in the state as soon as Roe is overturned. The Guttmacher Institute reports 1,290 abortions happened in Idaho in 2017.