PORTLAND, Oregon — A day after Idaho lawmakers passed a bill banning abortions past 6 weeks, Oregon lawmakers announced passage of a bill to help fund abortions and related travel expenses.
“It's one of those things where you hate to be right,” said Christel Allen, executive director of Pro-Choice Oregon.
Allen and other reproductive health care advocates had been paying close attention to Idaho as lawmakers considered the Texas-style abortion ban. The bill, which Idaho Governor Brad Little is expected to sign, would allow potential family members to sue a doctor who performs an abortion past 6 weeks.
“What has happened this week in Idaho is exactly the worst case scenario that we were preparing our legislators, our champions in Oregon for,” said Allen.
That preparation just resulted in Oregon lawmakers passing a bill to create the $15 million Oregon Reproductive Equity Fund. It will help cover abortion costs, travel and lodging for patients who need it, including many who will likely travel to Oregon from out of state.
The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group, studied the potential impact of a 15-week abortion ban; not just in Idaho but in other states likely to support one. It estimated a 234% increase in people traveling to Oregon for an abortion and a 385% percent increase for those traveling to Washington.
“The truth is it will also impact residents of Oregon,” said Kalpana Krishnamurthy, with Forward Together Action. “Because for eastern Oregonians, Boise is closer than some of the clinics we have in the Western part of the state.”
Krishnamurthy said Idaho's abortion ban also underlines Oregon's existing problem of "health care deserts," communities whose residents often struggle disproportionately and have fewer resources.
“When a state passes an abortion ban we know that it doesn't impact people in the same ways,” said Allen. “We are very excited to finally address some of those longstanding disparities that exist in our state.”