Pamplin Media Group – OPINION: Choosing to protect your choice in November

Janeen Sollman: “I will continue to advocate for reproductive rights, access to abortion, and unfettered access to health care.”

When the United States Supreme Court overturned the longstanding Roe v. Wade this summer, like many of my constituents, I had a stomach ache.

As a mother, grandmother, and legislator, I knew the progress this has set back for so many Americans. I feared the devastating effects this would have – the right to make your own decisions about your body has been taken away from you by the federal government.

While I took some comfort in the safeguards that Oregon lawmakers, myself included, have passed in recent years to reaffirm this right in our state, I knew the impacts would still be significant.

Three weeks after the decision was announced, I visited Idaho for the Council of State Governments-West (CSG West) conference with legislative colleagues from across the country. The reality of the decision really hit me when I was in our neighboring state.

Idaho has a trigger law banning abortion in almost all cases that went into effect after the Supreme Court ruling. I could only imagine how this monumental change might impact people walking next to me on the sidewalk or sitting at a table in a restaurant. In Idaho’s conservative-controlled legislature, there’s no relief for residents who need abortions — except likely to travel here in Oregon.

My advocacy for reproductive rights began when I served on the Hillsboro school board and advocated for widespread access to comprehensive sex education and contraceptives.

Research shows us that education and access to contraception help reduce abortions. Many of us know people whose lives have been affected in one way or another by teenage pregnancies.

Much like the ongoing fight for reproductive rights, simply providing contraceptives in our school health centers was an uphill battle. In 2016, a conservative majority opposed such efforts. We kept moving forward, and in 2018 Hillsboro School District made contraception widely available to students as part of their healthcare programs. Students can be prescribed contraceptives at the school health center. Under Oregon law, children as young as 15 can seek medical care without parental approval and students of any age can seek contraceptive services without parental approval.

When I joined the State Legislature in 2016, ensuring that the right to choose was protected for all Oregonians was one of my top priorities. I am proud to have sponsored and supported the Reproductive Health Equity Act of 2017, which establishes Oregon as a leader in the United States in protecting abortion access and expands health services regardless of income level.

My advocacy has continued throughout my tenure in the Legislative Assembly, and earlier this year, as a Senator, I supported a $15 million investment package to expand the network’s providers and support for people accessing abortion-related health care. I am proud to be the only candidate for Senatorial District 15 endorsed by Oregon’s Planned Parenthood PAC and Pro-Choice Oregon PAC.

In a post-Roe world, we cannot afford to elect to the Legislative Assembly anyone who opposes abortion or supports it with caveats.

Oregonians have voted time and time again to protect access to abortion care. Access to abortion should not depend on who you are or where you live. It’s a personal decision. Abortion bans do not eliminate abortions – they endanger women’s lives by making abortions unsafe and increase inequality by placing the burden largely on those who cannot afford to travel.

In Oregon, abortion is legal, accessible and safe. As a Senator, I will continue to be a champion for reproductive rights, access to abortion, and unfettered access to health care.

I would be honored to have your vote by November 8th.

Janeen Sollman is a state senator for Senate District 15, including Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Cornelius. Democrat, she lives in Hillsboro.


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