Nurses: All deserve reproductive health care

Washington State and Oregon Nurses Associations ‘unequivocally opposed’ to criminalization of abortion


SEATTLE (May 12, 2022) — The following joint statement was released Wednesday by the Washington State Nurses Association and the Oregon Nurses Association:

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) and Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) stand firm in our resolve that all people deserve access to health care services, when and where they need it, without financial hardship. That care includes access to a full range of essential health services, from health promotion and prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, information to make informed decisions, abortion, reproductive and sexual health options, palliative care and end of life care, among others.

We are deeply concerned about the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court regarding access to abortion — a draft opinion that appears likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.

While this is a draft opinion and some changes may still occur, analysts and reproductive rights advocates feel that we should be prepared for a fundamental restricting of access to abortion in many states across the country.

Oregon passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act in 2017, which codified protections of Roe v. Wade into Oregon law. As a result, abortion services are included in state Medicaid coverage and Oregon law requires private health insurance plans to cover abortions without exclusions or limitations.

Washington state has a long history of protecting a woman’s right to access abortion as the first state to legalize abortions in the first months of pregnancy when Referendum 20 was passed in 1970. In anticipation of future limitations to federal abortion access, the Washington State Legislature passed HB 1851 during the 2022 session. The law codified two previous attorney general statements that allow for advanced practice clinicians to provide abortion care in Washington.

Although Oregon and Washington may not be directly impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it is possible that as many as 25 states will begin to immediately limit access to reproductive services once Roe is overturned. We also know that restrictions on reproductive rights disproportionately impact people of color, young people, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA2S+ people.

ONA and WSNA are unequivocally opposed to any attempts to criminalize access to abortion or any reproductive health services and to the criminalization of providers, including nurses, who offer such services.

The Oregon Nurses Association, and the Washington State Nurses Association, affirm that:

• Everyone has the right to privacy and the right to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health based on full information and without coercion.
• Nurses are obligated to share with their patients in an unbiased manner all relevant information about sexual and reproductive health choices that are available and to support that patient regardless of the decisions that patient makes.
• Abortion is a reproductive health alternative that nurses and other providers can discuss when counseling patients.
• Sexual and reproductive health care should be widely available, accessible, and affordable for all.
• Nurses have the right to decline to participate in sexual and reproductive health care based on ethical grounds, as long as patient safety is assured, and alternative sources of care have been arranged.

Although many of us in Oregon and Washington feel we may be protected from changes at the federal level, ONA and WSNA want to take this moment to remind our members that we are in a midterm election year. Voting is the one sure way we have to protect our democracy and protect access to crucial health care services like sexual and reproductive health care.

We urge support for candidates who will protect access to abortion and other reproductive health services.


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