By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
SALEM — Imagine thousands of people pursuing a goal three times in seven years, finally meeting that goal, but then realizing your work has only begun.
That’s what Oregon Life United — a pro-life group energized largely by concerned Christians — now faces. Exceeding the required valid voter signatures on its latest petition drive, the group got word July 27 that it had succeeded in placing on Oregon’s November ballot Initiative Petition 1 (IP1), a proposed ban on state abortion funding. This follows 2012 and 2014 drives that fell short on signatures.
But now the group faces the bigger task — persuading a majority of voters in a state known as liberal on social issues to OK IP1.
Because more than 10,000 volunteers distributed petitions, Oregon Life United submitted 141,200 signatures by the state deadline of July 6. According to Director Jeff Jimerson, that was after about 16,000 duplicate signatures were removed.
IP1 qualified for the ballot on the first sample of signatures checked by state officials. Of the 1,000 signatures sampled, 94.7 percent were deemed valid, representing 130,396 verified signatures. Officials then removed another approximately 10 percent to account for margin of error and assumed duplicates. This left 117,799 signatures — just enough to qualify on the first pass; 117,578 were needed.
“I am so proud of our team. This milestone has been seven years in the making, and we didn’t give up,” said Jimerson. “Oregon voters deserve a chance to have a say. It’s wrong to force taxpayers to fund procedures not medically necessary — especially something as controversial as abortion.”
Opponents of the measure were quick to react. NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, the ACLU of Oregon and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon announced a joint campaign titled No Cuts to Care to defeat IP1.
“Initiative Petition 1 is an aggressive and misguided attempt to cut access to abortion care for vulnerable Oregonians and public employees,” NARAL stated.
But Jimerson last month informed measure backers by email that “our team is busy at work behind the scenes preparing for the Vote Yes! campaign this fall.” He invited them to take part in a campaign planning survey.
Oregon is the only state with no limits on abortion. According to government statistics, in the last fiscal year Oregon taxpayers paid for 3,769 abortions, at a total cost of $2.4 million. About 10 abortions per day are funded through the Oregon Health Plan.
For more information, go to stopthefunding.org