The Choice to Choose for Others

Oregonians may get the chance to vote on an anti-abortion measure in November

Governor Kate BrownPhoto by Todd Cooper

November may seem pretty far out, but it’s always election season somewhere in America.

In Oregon, July 6 was the last day to submit petition signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Elections Division to get a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, and there are some notable topics that Oregonians will most likely be voting on in the fall — including a controversial anti-abortion measure. 

Initiative Petition 1 (IP 1), also known as the Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act of 2018, is looking to strip all public funding from abortion services in Oregon. This is coming at a time when states’ rights are particularly important, as federal restrictions on reproductive rights may increase in light of a Supreme Court with a conservative majority.

Petitioners for IP 1 submitted 139,286 signatures on the July 6 deadline, according to the office of the Oregon Secretary of State; 117,578 signatures are required to get a measure on the ballot, and the office is currently in the process of verifying the signatures.

The measure would provide exceptions for ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus) and for pregnancies that leave the mother in danger of death, but not for pregnancies that result from rape or incest unless required by federal law, according to the petition. 

Gov. Kate Brown recently spoke at a health clinic in Eugene about the Trump administration’s attempts to take away health insurance for pre-existing conditions. She touched base about IP 1 with Eugene Weekly via email after that event.

“Initiative Petition 1 would set a dangerous precedent by cherry-picking which medical procedures public insurance will and won’t cover,” Brown writes. “It would take abortion coverage away from women on the Oregon Health Plan. It would take coverage away from state employees.”

She says employees like teachers, nurses and firefighters will no longer have this coverage if IP 1 gets on the ballot and passes. 

“We successfully fought the same kind of attack on health care earlier this year when Oregonians resoundingly approved Ballot Measure 101. And this time, we’ll fight back again,” Brown says. 

Lisa Gardner, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Oregon, echoes a similar sentiment. 

“IP 1 is an extremely dangerous ballot measure,” Gardner says. “It would amend the Oregon Constitution and restrict access to safe and legal abortion to any woman who receives her health care through the state, which includes over 250,000 low-income women and about 75,000 teachers and firefighters and public employees.”

Gardner is also a board member on the Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon — a political action committee formed by the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. 

“I will 100 percent be involved as a PAC board member on specifically defeating this measure,” she says. 

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, along with other organizations like the ACLU of Oregon and Oregon Nurses Association, have launched the No Cuts to Care campaign to defeat IP 1. 

“We’re working collectively, and the full board of the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon will be involved,” Gardner says. “The next five months there’s no question that I’m going to be working very hard to defeat this.”

Gardner also stresses that IP 1 would be bad for Oregon’s economy, is out of touch with Oregon values and would strongly affect low-income women, women of color and immigrant women. She also says not only those who visit Planned Parenthood will be affected. 

“It affects folks way beyond accessing Planned Parenthood. It affects anybody’s private choices in whatever doctor they go to,” Gardner says. “It will restrict their insurance policies from covering that kind of care. I just don’t think that that’s something that 117,000 signature signers should be able to impact.” 

She adds: “When abortion is restricted, it doesn’t go away. It just becomes unsafe and dangerous.”