Sen. Wyden vows to fight for access to abortion during Bend visit

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A week after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden dropped by Bend’s Planned Parenthood to talk with staff and rally supporters.

“Let’s be clear about why we’re here and that is there is a clear and present danger to women. And we are going to stay at it until women all over America can take back control of their own bodies,” the senator said to the cheers of the crowd.

The court’s ruling returns the decision on abortion to the states, the procedure will remain legal in Oregon.

The senior senator, a Democrat, laid out the next steps that he hopes Congress will work toward.

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Steps like ensuring the FDA does not restrict the drugs used in medication abortions and protecting people’s data when searching for information on abortion services or using period tracker apps.

He took questions from the press and some from the audience.

Amy Sabbadini of Bend asked the senator, “How can women who are having a very difficult pregnancy, whose lives are in danger, get protection immediately in the interim?”

Wyden answered in part to ensure organizations like Planned Parenthood are adequately funded.

“And then we want to protect the helpers, because what I’m worried about is that all kinds of judgements, this is a crime for helping,” said Wyden.

Alison Lynch-Miller, a retired OBGYN who shares in Wyden’s worry, asked the senator what she as a provider should do to ensure her legal and physical safety.

“There isn’t an answer right now, and you deserve an answer because you’re stepping up and want to help,’ Wyden going on to add, “Message sent, you want to help, it’s my job to get you the legal protection you need to help.”

When asked after the event about the impact of the court’s decision Lynch-Miller said, “I’m very disappointed, to be perfectly honest, with the government not having a plan about this. They knew it was coming and there’s no action plan by the democratically elected Democratic government. And like are they just hanging our little (expletive) out to dry? Do they not care about the women who are young and getting pregnant, about the providers?” 

The uncertainty around the court ending federal protection of abortion has raised questions for providers and sent those seeking services scrambling.

“It’s not uncommon for us to have patients that are driving 4 to 5 hours get to their appointment,” said Joanna Dennis-Cook the health center manager at Bend’s Planned Parenthood. 

The Guttmacher Instittute, a sexual and reproductive health rights organization, says there could be 234% increase in patients to the the Bend location, many coming from beyond Oregon’s borders.

“We’ve seen patients as far away as Texas because the clinics close to them are way too far out,” added Dennis-Cook.

Several dozen people filed in to the conference room to hear the senator on Saturday afternoon and stenciled above a door was the phrase ‘never give up’, a mantra held by those on both sides of abortion issue.

“We’re going to fix this, we’re going to write this into black letter law,” Wyden told the crowd.

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