An anti-abortion petition in Oregon aims to strip the health-care procedure of state funding, with the potential to affect thousands of impoverished women each year.
The Oregon Health Authority covers abortion for women who typically make no more than $1,800 per month, a spokeswoman said. The Oregon Health Plan paid for 3,556 abortion procedures in 2013-2014, the most recent fiscal year for which data is available, at a total cost of nearly $1.8 million.
Jeff Jimerson, co-author of the petition and director of Oregon Life United, told Rewire he doesn’t want women to end their pregnancies on taxpayers’ dime.
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“We’re not against paying for things that are good for the community, but the destruction of human life is not something I want to pay for, and many thousands of Oregonians don’t want to pay for,” Jimerson said.
On Friday, Oregon Life United announced in a statement it delivered 1,459 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State, an early-stage requirement in the ballot process. The petition needs 117,578 signatures to go before voters in 2016.
Amy Casso, program manager of the Western States Center and the BRAVE Coalition, said the proposed measure would limit reproductive health access among the state’s poorest.
“By denying coverage for abortion, we would be taking away a low-income individual’s ability to make important personal decisions based on what is best for their circumstances,” Casso said in a statement.
The number of abortions that the state has paid for is down from 2002, when 4,105 were covered.
Past attempts to get the measure on the the ballot fell short. Jimerson said they gathered about 98,000 signatures in 2014, and 72,000 in 2012.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 32 states and the District of Columbia restrict state funding of abortion to cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest, although Oregon does not. The use of direct federal funds is illegal in all 50 states except in rare circumstances.
Reproductive health providers call the proposed initiative a “scam.”
“The ballot measure sponsors seek to push their narrow political agenda of ending access to abortion,” Mary Nolan, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said in a statement. “This measure would unfairly penalize low-income Oregonian women seeking abortion.”