By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
CORVALLIS — Jeff Jimerson acknowledges that he has a lot now to think and pray about. The leader of efforts the past six years by concerned Christians throughout Oregon to see a halt to state funding of abortion, the Corvallis resident is contemplating why the statewide measure for which they worked so hard lost so overwhelmingly in last month’s election.
“I’m still proocessing,” said Jimerson. “I don’t have answers. But I am definitely encouraged by all the positive notes and emails and text messages from folks who are just helping me be reminded that God is still in control.”
By a 2-1 margin, with a vote of 1.18 million to 654,087, Oregon voters said a clear no to Measure 106, which called for banning the use of state tax dollars to fund abortion. The measure had made it to the ballot because of an initiative campaign sponsored by Oregon Life United and assisted by 600 churches. Jimerson directed the initiative effort, which succeeded this year after two signature-gathering tries in 2012 and 2014 fell short.
While Measure 106 always faced tough odds for passage in a state known for its liberal stance on social issues, Jimerson said he was still surprised by the size of the defeat. But he also was quick to point out that the measure’s opponents had probably 20 times as much money to spend in the fall campaign as its supporters. He said Oregon Life United only had about $250,000 with which to work.
The Portland Business Journal recently analyzed political spending on the ballot measure and discovered almost all opposition money came from out-of-state, while money backing the measure came from Oregonians. Jimerson said Planned Parenthood chapters from across the nation contributed huge amounts of money to defeat the measure, and were joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America, some labor unions and a nurses’ association.
“Very conservatively, we can say the opponents had at least $5 million,” he said.
Nationally, Oregon was one of three states with pro-life measures on the November ballot. Unlike Oregon’s, the measures in Alabama and West Virginia passed, but Jimerson noted those proposals were backed by those states’ legislatures — something very unlikely to happen at Oregon’s Capitol under the current political climate.
LifeNews.com, reporting on Measure 106’s loss, noted that abortion activists “desperately want to keep Oregon a radically pro-abortion state.” Oregon has no restrictions on abortion — not even late-term abortion restrictions nor parental consent for underage girls — so tax dollars can pay for unborn babies to be aborted for any reason up to birth. In 2017, Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill expanding taxpayer-funded abortions to illegal immigrants and government employees.
Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, said the measure’s defeat was disappointing. “Measure 106 was the grassroots work of a very dedicated group of pro-life advocates,” Anderson stated. “The ‘No’ campaign inundated voters with assertions that Measure 106 was a back-door ban on abortion. The results spoke to the wealth and power of corporate abortion to reinforce their industry at the expense of Oregonians who largely oppose taxpayer-funded abortion.”
Jimerson said much has been learned about what to expect next time — if there is a next time. At this point, he said, he is not ruling out another try in the future, but neither he is planning on it.
“The most difficult thing was coming off the signature gathering, and frankly not being prepared (for the fall campaign). We were working so hard to get signatures, and then suddenly, you’re in campaign mode.”
He said there are some Measure 106 supporters — including some of Oregon Life United’s larger donors — who have already told him that another try at a ban on state abortion funding must be pursued in the future.
“The message is that this is a good time to recharge and reflect and see what God has next,” he said. “We were called to be a light in this world, in many different ways. The darkness is still here, and the light is still needed.
“I guess another way of saying that is, there is no giving up. There is no quitting.”