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Mayor Wheeler Votes in Support of Reproductive Healthcare Rights and Opposition to the State of Texas’ Ban on Abortion

News Article
Our community will remain a safe haven for abortion access and reproductive freedom. Portland will continue to lead with compassion and be true partners in the fight for reproductive rights.

On May 19, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a measure placing a ban on abortions performed after just six weeks of pregnancy. This law provides no exceptions to survivors of rape or incest. This law also authorizes individuals, including those who are not Texas residents, to sue any person who performs an abortion or anyone proven to “aid and abet” such a procedure in exchange for a $10,000 fee for every successful suit.

On September 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to block Texas’ unconstitutional ban on abortions in a 5-4 ruling after less than 72 hours of deliberation.

Texans in need of abortions already face challenges in receiving reproductive care. Some Texans struggle financially. Others have difficulty coordinating time off, finding transportation, and finding physicians with the capacity to take on more patients. Additionally, Texans are already required to adhere to state-mandated separate visits for ultrasounds and the actual abortion procedure, both of which are required to occur with the same physician and occur at least 24 hours apart. 

On the off chance a person discovers they are pregnant before the 6-week mark, which many doctors affirm is rare unless someone is hoping to conceive[HH1] [BH2] [HH3] , they face significant financial and logistical challenges in addition to being denied the time they deserve to deliberate on the choice at hand.

Over the last few weeks, the City of Portland has faced criticism for its response to the Texas abortion ban. Many people have questioned why we are getting involved in Texas politics because they don’t see the impact this law has on our city.

This law unquestionably impacts Portlanders. Texas’ abortion ban and the Supreme Court’s decision not to block it, threatens the historic precedent that protects the reproductive freedom of people across the nation. South Dakota, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Indiana have already publicly stated they are pursuing similar actions.

One of the more public criticisms came from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick who tweeted that Portland is “A city led by depraved officials [that] allows lawlessness, putting their citizens in grave danger.”

Lt. Governor Patrick appears to be oblivious to the depravity of establishing control over the reproductive freedoms of those who can bear children and how this law will impact the health and safety of Texas residents. He demonstrates zero concern for Texas’ blatant disregard for 50 years of federal precedent.  And while he affirmed that Texans “value babies,” he failed to express seeing any value in the people who can have them.

Texas has put a bounty on every person that may become pregnant as well as the healthcare providers and allies who support people exercising their constitutional right to choose.

Proclaiming support for reproductive rights is not enough. Declaring allyship is not enough. Portland already welcomes people from around our state and country who seek reproductive care services.

We will continue to welcome and support these individuals, but being a sanctuary city for reproductive care is not enough. States that choose to enact these laws do not eliminate the cost or logistical challenges associated with providing reproductive care. These costs and challenges will be absorbed by communities like Portland who fight to deliver healthcare services to those in need.

We will not be silent in the face of oppression and control. We will speak out, we will act, and we will hold other states accountable for the disproportionate harm they inflict on communities of color, women, gender non-binary individuals, poor working families, and immigrant communities.

City Council remains aligned in denouncing Texas’ abortion ban and in the Supreme Court’s decision not to block the law. We remain committed to supporting reproductive rights and care. As such, we reached out toreproductive healthcare providers and reproductive rights organizations to ensure that our actions were guided by those who do the work and live the issue every day.

City Council was advised that the most impactful assistance we could offer at this time is that of financial support. The ordinance heard at Council last Wednesday allocated $200,000 to one or more organizations that deliver programs and services related to reproductive healthcare.

In addition, City Council will send a letter to the Oregon Congressional delegation urging them to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to secure the rights of Roe v. Wade into federal statute as well as a letter to the Biden Administration supporting the United States Department of Justice’s challenge to the Texas law in court. Our City Attorney's Office will be directed to participate as an amicus challenging the Texas law consistent with Resolution 37443 at the most effective and strategically valuable opportunity.

We are grateful for the opportunity to listen and learn more about the fight for reproductive rights from experts. These conversations were a clear opportunity for City Council to be active allies that move beyond words of support and push to action. In refining our response to align with the recommendations we heard, we ensured we are best supporting those in need of reproductive care.

Moving forward, City Council will continue to listen to and respond to the needs of those being stripped of their constitutional right to reproductive care. Our community will remain a safe haven for abortion access and reproductive freedom. Portland will continue to lead with compassion and be true partners in the fight for reproductive rights.

It was my duty and honor to vote “aye” in support.