It’s Not About Choice, It’s About Justice

Demonstrators at a pro-choice rally in Washington D.C.

We, the trustees and staff of Meyer Memorial Trust, are devastated and infuriated by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Even as we knew this travesty was coming, it is still shocking and the anger we are feeling needs to be named. This will have serious life-threatening implications on the collective well-being of people in Oregon and around the country. This decision is clearly rooted in a long history of white supremacy, misogyny and patriarchy.

In Oregon, many of us are fortunate enough to have access to needed abortion and reproductive health services — but access should not be a privilege or matter of chance based on where you live, your race, economic position, gender identity or sexual orientation. But even in Oregon, and even with Roe, unfettered access to abortion has only been the right of the few. In 2017, some 78% of Oregon counties had no clinics that provided abortions. What’s more, nearly all of Oregon’s abortion clinics are along I-5 in the western part of the state, and many people in Eastern Oregon rely on clinics in Idaho to access reproductive health services. With Roe overturned, Eastern Oregonians could see a 35% reduction in abortion access -- a reality that will undoubtedly have an outsize impact on Black and Brown Oregonians, Native American communities and people who cannot afford to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest provider.

As terrifying as a loss of abortion rights is, we also need to be clear that this is not just about choice, it’s about justice. This is about controlling the bodies and realities of those who are most vulnerable and will not stop with a focus on people who can become pregnant, but affect many other bodies, including trans bodies. As one reads the majority opinion, it is clear that the conservative majority believe abortion is only one of a number of rights that should not be protected. What is next? The right to interracial marriage? The right not to undergo forced sterilization? The right to contraception?

Since our founding in 1982, Meyer has granted a combined total of $2.8 million to Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette and Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon, more than $700,000 to NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon Foundation (now, Pro-Choice Oregon) and funded many other organizations that support health equity and justice. As we embrace an explicitly anti-racist, feminist approach to our work, we recognize that the Oregon we are trying to create requires a further commitment to dismantling oppressive systems and utilizing an intersectional justice lens. We continue to explore how we can be a strong partner on gender and reproductive justice issues by investing in organizations and movements working at the intersection of gender, race and class.

As Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor have written in their dissenting opinion, "'people' did not ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. Men did. So it is perhaps not so surprising that the ratifiers were not perfectly attuned to the importance of reproductive rights for women’s liberty, or for their capacity to participate as equal members of our Nation.”

We join Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor in their dissent. A fundamental, constitutional human right has ended with today's decision. But tomorrow is another day. We have more work to do and we — along with our partners, friends and allies — are committed to doing it.