Ban on publicly-funded abortion heads to ballot

A constitutional amendment to ban publicly-funded abortion in Oregon has qualified for the statewide general election.

The Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act — which will likely be called Measure 106 — had just enough valid signatures to secure a place on the ballot.

“We are really excited because we have been working at this since 2012,” said Brooks resident Marilyn Shannon, one of the initiative’s three chief sponsors. “We had a lot of road blocks.”

The measure would prohibit the use of public funds to pay for abortions, unless medically necessary or required by federal law.

“This does not outlaw abortions,” Shannon said. “It just does not allow public money to pay for it.”

The state spent about $1.9 million in 2017-18 for abortions paid for by the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Abortion rights activists and others have formed a coalition — the No Cuts to Care campaign — to oppose the measure.

“This measure targets vulnerable Oregonians and individual who are already stretched in terms of their means,” said Emily McLain, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. “This really could harm their access to health care.”

Oregonians have consistently supported increasing access to reproductive health care, she said.

“I am confident they will vote no on Measure 106,” she said.

Oregon is one of 17 states that use public funds for medically-necessary abortions; 32 states and the District of Columbia prohibit spending public funds on abortion, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that advocates for sexual and reproductive health rights.

As a constitutional change, the measure needed at least 117,578 valid signatures to appear on the ballot.

The Secretary of State’s Office determined that 117,799 were valid.

The office has dismissed an elections complaint by Planned Parenthood alleging that the petitioners failed to disclose that they were using paid signature gatherers. An investigation into another complaint accusing petitioners of improper campaign finance reporting is still ongoing, McLain said.

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