By Suzanne Bonamici, Kate Brown, and Ellen Rosenblum
We remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade—and we won’t go back.
Across the country, the fundamental right to access reproductive health care is under attack. States are passing restrictive abortion laws, the Trump administration is trying to implement regressive policies, and there’s a concerted campaign to remake the courts and overturn Roe v. Wade.
Everyone should be able to make their own decision about their health care, including the choice to terminate their pregnancy. And here in Oregon, the three of us are committed to it staying that way.
For now, abortion is still legal in every state. But it is harder and harder to get access to reproductive health care. Eight states have passed abortion bans or severely limited access to the procedure this year. Over the past decade, states have passed more than 400 restrictions to abortion access.
We are fighting back — in the state Capitol, in Congress, and in the courts— against those attempting to turn back the clock on reproductive freedom. We are striving to safeguard the rights of women across the country, but this is also an urgent matter of public safety and health. About one in four women in this country will have an abortion in her lifetime; before Roe v. Wade it was often unsafe, unsanitary, and life-threatening. That’s what happens when abortion is limited or banned — it doesn’t go away; it becomes unsafe.
At the federal level, Congresswoman Bonamici is tackling this issue with the Women’s Health Protection Act, which reaffirms a woman’s right to abortion free from burdensome restrictions, and the EACH Woman Act, which would make sure abortion care and other reproductive health services are covered for every person – no matter where they live, what their income is or whether they are insured.
At the state level, Gov. Brown signed the strongest reproductive health care bill in the nation into law – the Reproductive Health Equity Act. This first-of-its-kind law expanded access to reproductive services to Oregonians across the state, regardless of income, citizenship status or gender. The law requires private health plans to cover, among other things, well-woman care; certain reproductive health care screenings; pregnancy screenings; contraceptive drugs, devices and products; postpartum care and abortions. In defeating an anti-choice ballot measure last fall, Oregonians across the state overwhelmingly affirmed their belief that all Oregonians should have access to reproductive health care including abortion.
We are also helping defend the health care of the millions of women and families who rely on Title X, the federal family planning program, for necessary health care. The Trump administration has issued a “gag rule” to make it illegal for health care providers to even discuss the option of abortion with their patients. This rule would dismantle Title X by ending funding to health care providers, like Planned Parenthood, who offer abortion. Title X has been a critical lifeline for people who are struggling to make ends meet with access to birth control, sexually-transmitted infection testing, cancer screenings, and other essential health care.
That’s why Gov. Brown and Attorney General Rosenblum recently led a national lawsuit against the Trump administration on Title X—and won a crucial victory. A federal judge in Oregon issued an injunction to stop the gag rule from going into effect. This ruling will, at least for the time being, protect the tens of thousands of Oregonians and millions throughout the country who rely on Title X for necessary health care.
We will continue to do everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care — including safe, legal abortion. Our sisters and friends across the country need our help.
As we’ve chanted in the streets many times: When abortion rights are under attack, what do we do?
Stand up. Fight back.
This opinion piece originally appeared in The Oregonian. Bonamici represents Oregon’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Brown is governor of Oregon. Rosenblum is Oregon attorney general.