PORTLAND, Ore. — The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will transform the landscape of abortion access practically overnight in about two dozen states, but it won't change much in Oregon and Washington.
"The right to abortion is protected under Oregon law and under Washington law," said Kim Clark, senior attorney for reproductive rights, health and justice at Legal Voice, a legal advocacy organization that serves the two states plus Idaho, Alaska and Montana.
In Oregon, abortion access is protected under the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which was established in 2017.
"Abortions have been legal in Oregon for some time. The Reproductive Health Equity Act, signed in 2017, expanded that access for individuals to receive abortions as well as providers that have the right to provide abortions," said Rachael Banks, public health director at Oregon Health Authority, who was responsible in part for implementing the state's reproductive health program.
The Reproductive Health Equity Act allows access to abortion services regardless of immigration status or insurance barriers, she said.
However, not all states are so-called "safe haven" states like Oregon and Washington.
"There are 26 states that are poised to ban abortion should Roe vs. Wade be overturned," Clark said.
One of those states is Idaho, Oregon and Washington's neighbor to the east.
"Idaho has a statute — what's called a trigger ban — on the books that will go into effect 30 days after any decision that overrules Roe vs. Wade, and that would ban abortion outright," Clark said.
Abortion rights advocates have said those kinds of state-level bans are expected to bring people to Oregon to get an abortion. Christel Allen, the executive director of Pro-Choice Oregon, weighed in on the amount of people expected to travel to Oregon for access to abortion.
"We are expecting an estimated 235% increase in people traveling to the state," Allen said.
That influx could put a strain on healthcare providers in Oregon, Clark said, and there are also fears that providers here may face litigation if they provide an abortion to a person from out of state.
"States that ban abortion likely will not stop with banning abortion in their states, but that they will seek to assert jurisdiction over conduct that takes place either partially or entirely outside of their borders," she said.
It’s still yet to be seen if that will happen. But what is clear at the moment is that people living in Oregon and Washington will continue to have access to abortion.
The Oregon Health Authority also provided the following information for those seeking reproductive health services:
Individuals can access free or low-cost reproductive health services at local health departments, Planned Parenthood clinics, federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics across the state. To find a clinic, visit healthoregon.org/rhclinics, dial 211, or text HEALTH to 898211.