Christel Allen has spent the past 48 hours in Washington, DC, representing NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon on Capitol Hill, protesting the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Allen, who serves as NARAL's political director for Oregon, is primarily in DC to call out Kavanaugh's flawed record on protecting a woman's right to access an abortion.
For those of you not following closely, Kavanaugh was responsible for ruling against an undocumented teenager in a detention facility seeking an abortion in 2017, suggesting that allowing her to go through with the procedure would force the government to be "complicit" in something morally flawed. A few years earlier, Kavanaugh argued against contraception mandates for private companies, saying the decision infringed on employers' religious freedoms.
Like many advocates for these basic reproductive rights, Allen believes Kavanaugh's addition to the Supreme Court could do irreparable harm to the country's current laws around abortion access. Sure, he hasn't explicitly said he'll overturn Roe v Wade—forcing abortion access to be a state-by-state issue—but Kavanaugh's judicial record doesn't help his case. Allen says it's certainly not a time for progressive states like Oregon to be complacent.
"The threat could not be more real. It's critical for people in blue states and on the West Coast to pay attention," Allen says. "We are in one of the most pro-choice states in the country. We need to show up. We need to get involved."
According to Allen, that means calling your out-of-state relatives (especially those living in Alaska and Maine) and urging them to call their senators and tell them to vote against Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Allen spent 20 minutes yesterday inside the Senate Judiciary Committee chambers to watch the opening statements, but she's spent most of her time in the senate office building, meeting with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and staff for Senator Ron Wyden.
The most remarkable part of her trip has been being at the receiving end of Oregonians' anti-Kavanaugh activism. Over the course of ten minutes in Merkley's office, Allen said, staff had received at least a dozen calls from concerned constituents. She saw the same flood of calls at Wyden's office.
"Call after call after call... it could not feel more real right now," Allen says.
Allen's returning to Salem this evening to dive into Oregon's own threat to abortion: Measure 106, the November 6 ballot measure threatening to pull public funding from abortion insurance coverage.
"It's a critical fight," she says. "And these national fights start at the local level."