Portland to cut trade, travel with Texas amid abortion law

The city of Portland, Oregon, announced it intends to ban trade and travel to the state of Texas in response to the Lone Star State’s new abortion law.

Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Friday that the city council intends to vote on an emergency resolution Wednesday to stop “the City’s future procurement of goods and services from, and City employee business travel to, the state of Texas.”

The resolution will be in effect until Texas ends the law or it is overturned. It’s not exactly clear what such a ban would look like.

“City legal counsel is currently evaluating the legal aspects of this proposed resolution,” a release from the city council said.

“The Portland City Council stands unified in its belief that all people should have the right to choose if and when they carry a pregnancy and that the decisions they make are complex, difficult, and unique to their circumstances.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced the city of Portland intends to ban trade and travel to the state of Texas.AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer, File

The new Texas law, S.B.8, was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May and went into effect last week after the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

It bans all abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is typically about six weeks after conception and before many women are aware they are pregnant.

Additionally and uniquely, the law allows for private residents bring legal action against anyone who assisted in terminating the pregnancy, including those who drive a woman to the abortion appointment. Citizens who win such lawsuits may be entitled to at least $10,000.

Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 in Austin, TX.
Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in Austin.
Sergio Flores For The Washington Post via Getty Images

“This law rewards private individuals for exercising surveillance and control over others’ bodies. It violates the separation of church and state. And, it will force people to carry pregnancies against their will,” the council’s statement said.

“Portland City Council stands with the people who may one day face difficult decisions about pregnancy, and we respect their right to make the best decision for themselves.”

The law sparked immediate outcry nationwide, and legal battles have already begun.

On Friday, a Texas district judge issued a temporary restraining order against the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, which launched a “whistleblower” website asking for tips about abortions.

anti-abortion rights demonstrators gather in the rotunda at the Capitol while the Senate debated anti-abortion bills in Austin, Texas.
The nation’s highest court has allowed a Texas law banning most abortions to remain in effect.
Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File

On Monday, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department would “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services” under a federal law known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Garland said in a statement that federal prosecutors are still urgently exploring options to challenge the Texas law.

President Biden called the law “almost un-American” on Friday, and pledged to work with the Justice Department to fight against it.

“The most pernicious thing about the Texas law: It sort of creates a vigilante system where people get rewards … And it just seems — I know this sounds ridiculous — almost un-American, what we’re talking about.”

Florida may be considering a similar abortion ban.