Rural areas will be disproportionately affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade through the Dobbs v. Jackson decision. This is of enormous consequence for all states, Indiana, Idaho and Oregon alike. This decision signals major consequences for individual and minority rights, tied here specifically to women and some transgender peoples. The decision also signals a dangerous neo-fascistic turn in the GOP; the culmination of decades of work on the part of the right, symbolized in the Trump moment. The Republican Party is no longer a vessel for containing the ‘factions’ in democracy, but has itself become a dangerous faction. In all of this, there is hope, and through state legal protections, elections, Congressional action, direct action and utilizing various avenues of change – we can stand for women, democracy, and working people everywhere.
Feminist movements have helped to reveal the ways in which government and institutions has been largely shaped by upper-class/caste men. Institutions may of domination may leak the benefits and status to upper-middle class or caste women, Black and Brown people, lgbt people, though all in supporting the ‘common sense’ ideology, the legitimation of power and what serves the interests of those on top. Thus, the premise that denying basic rights upholds ‘traditional’ and ‘universal’ morals is not new, though it takes on a new form in our age. In a concrete sense, the struggle over women’s sexual autonomy and economic power has been fundamental.
This campaign and many others stand unapologetically with women and all persons around the world. Rather than address the alienating effects of American capitalism, the Republican Party elite and our local leadership – including my opponent, focus on religious fanaticism. Fear and hysteria over transgender women (in particular), the gay and lesbian community. Sexual freedom, reproductive freedom impacts everyone. Parenthood and the ‘care economy’ impacts everyone including men and husbands. In this, rural areas and the poor will be significantly hurt, the identity of ‘independent,’ ‘local control’ will reveal its own contradictions as economic access, political and bodily autonomy are further tightened, and the effects of climate change are transposed onto “liberal Portland leadership.”
What can we do going forward? First, we must note that abortion continues to be protected in Oregon – a state known for a unique amount of access and protection in the nation. Second, it is important to recognize that the majority of Oregonians support the individual right to abortion services. There are some actions in the next year and the next legislative cycles that can be worked on: we can build on our $15 million investment in endorsing abortion and reproductive care access for Oregonians in rural areas and those traveling across state lines. We can vote to pass the HOPE Amendment in November, guaranteeing affordable healthcare access for all Oregonians, enabling access to reproductive care a right. Legislators must also make sure that insurance companies do not deny or inhibit abortion access – explicit protections must continue. In doing so, we can work to bring greater service networks to rural areas that will be disproportionately affected by the loss of Roe. Further, professional and network professionals can team with outreach and activist organizations, ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ that work to safely navigate transportation and networking for women and persons seeking abortion services. And, culturally, ending stigma, shame, and learning to embrace inclusive language can do good to help individuals through the very personal process of choosing reproductive care.
What is unique about our time, while we face a neo-fascist threat, is that the democratic systems in place are authentic and real. Voting is but one process of effective change; union power is a real ‘countervailing power’ to corporate hegemony – and can be leveraged to expand reproductive care. Direct action can save women’s lives; and activist, feminist, gay rights, and environmentalists movement do change public consciousness.
American politics has been said to have a pendulum effect, swinging from liberal to conservative. We can have a ‘political revolution’ where the working- and working-middle classes have greater political influence. Where local news is supported, funded and work for the citizenry. Where urban and rural regions, people of all colors, genders and sexuality; and people from all faiths and class backgrounds have access to a respectable life, work with purpose, and social connections of solidarity and love.