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Abortion funding fight sees surge of churches joining

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SALEM — All it took was the Oregon governor’s signature on a bill to spark a sudden surge of activity among churches on a current initiative effort.

Not that Gov. Kate Brown likely intended that to happen.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, Brown, as expected, signed into law House Bill 3391, which had been passed in the waning days of the recent state legislative session. Officially titled the Reproductive Health Equity Act, it is also known as the “free abortions for all” bill. It garnered national media attention because it requires health insurance plans in the state to not only cover abortions, but to pay for them in full.

Brown had said earlier that the legislation was needed, since being able “to control our bodies and make informed decisions about health are critical to providing all Oregonians the opportunity to achieve our full potential and live productive, thriving lives.”

But since its passage in Salem, the bill has been blasted by many in the state’s pro-life and evangelical Christian communities as devastating and morally reprehensible. They charge that it is one of the most aggressive pro-abortion laws in the nation’s history, making the procedure free even for sex-selective and late-term abortions. The new law also allocates $500,000 to cover abortions and contraceptives for illegal immigrants.

And, refusing to accept it, they have gone into action.

“Wow, the response we are seeing has been amazing,” wrote Jeff Jimerson of Corvallis-based Oregon Life United, sponsor of Initiative Petition 1, the Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.  The measure would prohibit state funds from being used for abortions, except when medically necessary or if required by federal law.

“Since the news of HB 3391 broke on Tuesday, thousands of pro-life and fiscal conservatives have requested petitions from our website — StopTheFunding.org — to finally stop our state tax dollars from funding abortion on demand,” Jimerson wrote four days after the governor’s bill signing.

Also, just that week alone, volunteers from 139 new churches statewide stepped forward to take part in signature gathering efforts, said Jimerson.  He provided a list of churches both large and small and in every area of the state.  This is in addition to more than 400 Oregon churches that had earlier joined the campaign.

“It is so encouraging to watch how enthusiasm for this ballot initiative is growing,” wrote Jimerson in an email to Oregon Life United supporters.

Jimerson said the goal is to secure the signatures of more than 117,000 registered Oregon voters in order to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot.

According to Jimerson, the initiative would block the stream of taxpayer dollars currently funding approximately 3,700 abortions annually through the Oregon Health Plan and reverse the expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion mandated by HB 3391.

Churches and individuals can get details on the initiative campaign at stopthefunding.org/churches or phoning 541-286-3039.