This year, an initiated constitutional amendment to prohibit public funding for abortion except to save the life of the mother failed to obtain the 116,284 signatures to be on the November ballot. Oregon law will, for now, remain unchanged. women on the Oregon Health Plan can obtain abortions when a medical provider deems the procedure medically necessary. Neither will an Oregon Personhood amendment see the light of day. After the Oregon Supreme Court forced the Secretary of State to change the amendment’s ballot title to clarify its impact on contraception and infertility treatment, Personhood organizers did not turn in any signatures. It's not their first defeat; Personhood did not appear on Oregon ballots in 2010, either.
But the fight over abortion in Oregon will continue — literally.
On October 23, a man was stabbed by an anti-abortion protester outside of a Planned Parenthood while defending his 22-year-old daughter, who had earlier exchanged words with and was shoved by said protester. A heated State House race has the Democratic Party of Oregon throwing half-true accusations of restricting reproductive rights at a Republican Right-to-Life-endorsed candidate. The Republican in question, incumbent Matt Wand, voted for a bill that would have placed restrictions on clinics providing abortions by classifying them as “ambulatory surgical centers.” His opponent, Chris Gorsek, is endorsed by the Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon.
Like Washington, Oregon does not have the types of controversial and burdensome regulations seen so often in her more-conservative neighbors. And though both the State House and Senate are almost perfectly divided down the middle, none of the session’s abortion-related bills have been signed into law. In addition to the bill that would have imposed regulations on abortion providers, legislators considered a fetal pain bill.
And in a rare offensive move, Planned Parenthood supported a bill targeting pregnancy crisis centers. The bill would “require centers to post notice on the front door and in the waiting room informing women about whether or not they provide abortions, contraception, or prenatal care ... and advertisements would also have to say whether there is a licensed medical provider on staff.”
Like its neighbors to the north, California is a magical, far-away place where abortion rights remain secure. Even in 1967 under the governorship of Ronald Reagan, years before Roe vs. Wade, the state passed the Therapeutic Abortion Act. The law was progressive for its time, permitting physician-performed abortions in cases where “the pregnancy will gravely impair a woman’s physical or mental health or a District Attorney concludes that the pregnancy probably resulted from rape or incest.” It has since been superseded, but established Californian reproductive rights.
Indeed, the state can’t even pass a parental notification law. And choice opponent civilian Jim Holman has tried: thrice, thought to be going for a fourth this November. His propositions have failed every time. Though petitions were circulated for inclusion on the November 6 ballot, no signatures were submitted so nor will it this year be passed, let alone seen, by voters.
Reinforcing Californian progressivism, Governor Jerry Brown signed two important laws in this year alone. The first allows nurses, not just doctors, to dispense contraception. While signing the bill, which makes obtaining contraception much easier for many patients, Governor Brown referred to it as “a reaffirmation of ‘every woman's basic constitutional rights.’”
The second allows nurses, physician assistants, and midwives to perform some non-surgical early term abortions. The latter, which roller-coastered its way into law, is an extension of a trial program to “expand access” for women in rural areas. (Abortions performed by non-physicians are also legal in Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Oregon.) During August deliberations, in defense of this bill then under identifier SB 623, Democratic Assemblywoman Norma Torres exploded against the opposition: “for a hundred years, perhaps 200 years, ‘women have been under attack —attack of the ignorant, attack of our male counterparts that cannot understand our bodies.’” Read the article so I don’t have to quote all the awesome things she said here.
Alas — lest we fool ourselves that California is immune to the socially conservative (dare I say controlling?) virus of neo- or pseudo-Republicanism, we can be comforted that at least one California politician, Republican Congressional candidate Joe LaMalfa, believes “women who have abortions are more likely to get cancer.” After making this statement in a September debate, he decided to return to science class: “I checked the most recent research on the question of a link between abortion and cancer and found that current research does not support the conclusion that abortion causes cancer.” Duly noted, Joe.
Editor's Note: With 2 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states. So far, we've gotten updates on:
Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana ,Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Michigan, Indiana, Alabama,Ohio, Florida, Georgia, D.C., South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts & Rhode Island, Maine & New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!