Who We Are & What We Do
The Network for Reproductive Options was created in July of 2002, when the only independent abortion clinic in the southern half of Oregon abruptly closed. Because it had served such a large region, the clinic’s sudden closing was a terrible loss. Many in the region rallied, protested, sparked discussion and provided information at community events. NRO grew out of that struggle to meet the need for access to abortion care.
“Reproductive freedom is a matter
of social justice,
not individual choice.”
We quickly set up a Hotline where women could get answers about reproductive healthcare and abortion issues, and we established the Women in Need (WIN) Fund, to provide financial assistance for abortion procedures and related expenses. NRO now offers assistance in urban and rural communities throughout Oregon and, in exceptional cases, nearby Idaho and Washington. We also offer additional services, including education programs, to foster reproductive healthcare.
NRO is a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF), which spans the country to provide a framework and support system for small groups like ours and to work on abortion access policy. Like our sister funds, NRO helps women and girls work with humane and medically qualified providers of abortion care. Since 2002, NRO has been able to provide more than $300,000 to more than 1,500 women and girls.
A small Board of Coordinators guides NRO. We are always looking for interested Oregonians who support our work to join us or to become involved in a variety of ways.
If you are interested in finding out more about NRO’s activities during the year, please take a look at our annual Newsletters.
Why We Do It .... For Reproductive Justice
We do this because we believe a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproduction is fundamental to her integrity as a human being. In order to live healthy lives, to exercise full human rights as community members and individuals, women and girls need the freedom and resources to understand their sexuality, foster their reproductive health, and make thoughtful motherhood decisions.
We know that without access to abortion, the fact that it is “legal” is meaningless – thousands of women and girls are unable to find, get to, or pay for abortion services they need. We realize there is no contraceptive that’s both 100% effective and 100% safe & healthy. Regrettably, under pressure from a partner or circumstance, sometimes unprotected sex takes place.
“We know that without access to abortion, the fact that it is ‘legal’ is meaningless”
The anti-abortion movement has created many dangerous barriers to abortion access, and those barriers primarily affect low-income women, young women and rural women. We agree with law professor Dorothy Roberts: “Reproductive freedom is a matter of social justice, not individual choice.”
Throughout human history, women have accepted the necessity of abortion. Women have always examined the conditions surrounding unplanned pregnancy very carefully, estimating the possibilities for each potential life: Could it be a strong life, with potential for joy, health, maturity, and usefulness? Women have sometimes judged the possibilities for a particular pregnancy to be uncertain, unfortunate, or even tragic. Such decisions are always made on balance, weighing both the potential life and the mother’s ability to nurture it.
In the USA, though, we’ve been living through four decades in which thoughts and emotions about abortion have been forcefully shaped by an anti-abortion movement. Their great success has been in altering our national consciousness by promoting fear and shame culture-wide, across lines of class, race, ethnicity, region, gender and sexual identity. From a nation in which 70% of the citizens supported access to abortion and greeted the Roe decision with relief in 1973, the USA has become a nation in which more than 90% of counties have no access to abortion services and in many counties that do, those services are compromised, difficult to find and use.
When abortion is a personal, private decision - not subject to law - responses to it are very different from those now found in the USA. Abortion is not easy, but we always need to say clearly that many experience it as a gift: a relief, a release, a source of freedom, exhilaration, exultation. Women, most of them mothers, have counted it a blessing.