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We saw the end of Roe v. Wade, and we took action

The Oregon Legislature passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, but the fight’s not over.

The U.S. Supreme Court just overturned almost 50 years of legal precedent, almost 50 years of protection for abortion access.

Around the nation, abortion will be restricted, even illegal. But not in Oregon.

We knew this day might come. That’s why in 2017, after President Trump took office, I took action to protect reproductive health care.

As House Speaker, it has always been a priority for me to ensure that everybody has access to affordable health care, no matter what. And that’s what our landmark law, the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), does.

RHEA ensures the most comprehensive protections for reproductive health care access in the nation. RHEA ensures that private insurance companies cover abortion care, and it makes sure that reproductive health care is covered with no cost-sharing like co-pays and deductibles.

Taking action to defend reproductive freedom is not just about safeguarding our rights — it’s about being able to use those rights. We knew that access and cost were some of the largest barriers to Oregonians accessing reproductive health services, so we worked to ensure that all costs would be covered. No one should ever be turned away from getting the care they need because they can’t pay.

When we first passed RHEA, it was a sigh of relief for those who worried about this very moment.

I fought to pass the bill because it was critical to pass one of the most progressive and comprehensive guarantees for reproductive health care in history.

And, now, we are here. Living in a post-Roe world. We anticipated this moment, we knew this was coming.

I know this moment brings a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.

So, here is my message to Oregonians across our state: Your right to choose is protected, I made sure of that.

But this fight isn’t over.

Oregonians who live on the Idaho border will have trouble getting needed health care because Idaho, like other states around the country, is criminalizing and severely limiting abortion access, And there is no question that Oregon will serve as a safe haven for those from other states needing care.

It will take a governor who understands these issues to make sure we have access to care for Oregonians, and for people from across the country who will be seeking reproductive health care, including abortion, in our state.

And make no mistake: Reproductive rights are on the ballot this year.

This won’t just be a matter of electing a governor and legislators who will work to ensure everyone can access health care. Abortion access is on the line.

My Republican opponent, Christine Drazan, proudly touts her endorsement from the extremists at Oregon Right to Life, the same group that opposes abortion under almost all circumstances except when the life of the mother is in imminent danger.

As a candidate and member of the Oregon House of Representatives, Drazan supported a measure to block funding for abortion access and sponsored legislation to criminalize abortion providers.

Meanwhile, unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson just promoted an anti-choice extremist to run “Republicans for Betsy.” With every flip-flop, it’s becoming clearer that Oregonians simply cannot trust her.

I am the only candidate running for governor who has actually rolled up her sleeves to protect access to abortion care. That’s why I’m endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Pro-Choice Oregon, and The Mother PAC.

Now that Roe v. Wade has fallen, it is more important than ever to elect a governor who won’t just pay lip service to reproductive justice, but someone who has a record of defending our rights and someone who has the foresight to anticipate challenges and gets to work proactively so our rights are protected no matter what. I’m proud to be that champion.

As your governor, I will always stand up and fight for reproductive freedom. That’s a promise.

Former Oregon speaker of the House Tina Kotek is the democratic candidate for governor in the November general election.

You can also read Tina’s op-ed here.

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