When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, millions of women were robbed of their fundamental right to make deeply personal health care decisions.
The Dobbs ruling was the inevitable outcome of former President Donald Trump’s quest to pack the Supreme Court with as many far-right justices as possible — justices who, despite what they testified to under oath, voted to strike down Roe when given the chance.
Today, the right to choose is defined by the state you live in and completely unprotected at the federal level.
The absence of federal protection has forced countless women, girls and those who can become pregnant to do what was once unthinkable in America: flee their homes, their communities and even their state to seek necessary, sometimes lifesaving health care.
Fortunately, Oregon’s reproductive freedom laws — which I proudly contributed to, both as an advocate and a state legislator — have remained steadfast since the Dobbs decision. Our system is strong and continues to ensure that every Oregonian has access to the full suite of reproductive care.
But the sad truth is that our sisters in states like neighboring Idaho or nearby Wyoming can’t say the same — and they’re looking to us for help.
Since the Court struck down Roe, abortion providers across our state have seen a massive surge in patients who travel to Oregon for reproductive care.
Women come from hundreds upon hundreds of miles away, because our state has opened its doors and its arms to them in a time of great need.
And I have to say, nothing makes me prouder to be an Oregonian than that spirit of compassion in the face of crisis. We have risen to this occasion and will continue to do so until the protections once upheld by Roe are restored at the federal level.
That’s why one of the first bills I cosponsored as a member of Congress was the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act.
This legislation, offered by Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, would prohibit lawmakers in any state from punishing women who travel for reproductive health care.
It’s hard to imagine anything more draconian than a flat-out ban on abortion — except perhaps the criminalization of women who leave their state to obtain one legally. That’s not just unconscionable, it’s unconstitutional.
All of us have a right to move freely within the United States. It’s a liberty as elemental as the right to privacy or the right to free speech. And it goes without saying that the government ought to have no business interfering with that clearly defined freedom.
However, if we’ve learned one thing since Roe fell, it’s that no right, no matter how entrenched it may seem, can be taken for granted — least of all those that have to do with abortion.
Because the Dobbs decision was just the beginning. Efforts to restrict access to abortion, contraception and other forms of reproductive care are ongoing at the federal, state and local level — and we ignore those efforts at our own peril.
During the first full week of the 118th Congress, members of Republican leadership didn’t bring bills to the floor that would expand affordable housing or tackle the addiction crisis. Instead, they prioritized two pieces of anti-choice legislation, sending a clear message to every concerned American that their war on women is far from over.
These extreme individuals are seemingly determined to forge ahead until they achieve their ultimate goal: a sweeping national ban on abortion.
Fortunately, at least for the time being, a bill like that is unlikely to become law. Many of my reasonable Republican colleagues would oppose such an effort in the House, and the odds of it making it through the Senate are even slimmer.
But we need to remain vigilant of these efforts nonetheless. We can’t take our eyes off the ball when the consequences are so dire.
It’s a difficult time to be a mom, and an especially difficult time to be a mom to a teenage daughter. How do you explain to your child that the state they may go to college in may not protect their bodily autonomy? How do you prepare them for attacks on their most basic freedoms?
The answer is: We shouldn’t have to. That’s why I’m going to fight just as hard for your family as I would my own, and I won’t back down until women everywhere — not just in Oregon — have access to the reproductive care they need.
Andrea Salinas represents Oregon's 6th Congressional District.