The 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions brought in a new wave of state efforts to stop taxpayer funding for abortions. Notably, states are not limiting their efforts to preventing direct public payment for abortions or abortion coverage, but are also working to prevent abortion providers from receiving public funds at all. The reasons for these efforts are clear—money is fungible, and if abortion providers are receiving public funds to subsidize non-abortion activities, they have more funding available from other sources to expand their abortion businesses.
However, while many states are pursuing this more aggressive strategy to prevent public funds from bankrolling the abortion industry, some states are still lacking fundamental restrictions on funding. Seventeen states use state funds to pay for all or most “medically necessary” abortions for those who qualify for state medical assistance—13 of those states do so pursuant court order. The states under court order struggle to enact many meaningful restrictions on abortions, including funding restrictions.
One such state is Oregon, which has paid for abortions for women receiving public assistance pursuant to court order since 1984.[i] According to the Oregon 2012 Petition Committee, one third of all abortions in Oregon are funded by taxpayers. From 2003 to 2009, that amounts to $11.1 million in state money spent on 26,000 abortions.
Encouragingly, citizens of Oregon are fighting back against this court imposition. Pro-life Oregonians are currently seeking signatures to get Citizen Initiative #25—a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit public funding for most abortions in the state—placed on the November ballot.
Based on AUL model legislation and on §1 of Amendment 68 of the Arkansas Constitution, Initiative 25 is intended to prevent state funding of abortion to the extent permitted by federal law. The language is simple, practical, and clear. Further, it has been enacted in other states, it has been shown to be effective, and it can go into effect now.
However, deadlines for the effort are looming. The Petition Committee set May 18th as their target date for collecting at least 150,000 signatures. July 2nd in their absolute final deadline for receiving all signed petition sheets so that they may submit them to the Secretary of State by July 6th.
Oregon needs support. The Petition Committee’s website provides information on how Oregon citizens can sign the petition and encourage their family, friends, and colleagues to sign as well.
The Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for unfettered and taxpayer-funded access to abortion, confirms that more women have abortions when they are covered by public programs.[ii] Eliminating taxpayer funding for abortion-on-demand in Oregon will unquestionably protect many women, save the lives of their unborn children, and defend the conscience rights of Oregonians who view abortion as what it is—ending the life of an innocent child.
[i] See Planned Parenthood Assn. v. Dept. of Human Res., 297 Ore. 562 (1984).
[ii] See Heather D. Boonstra, The Heart of the Matter: Public Funding of Abortion for Poor Women in the United States, Guttmacher Policy Review, Winter 2007, Vol. 10, No. 1, available at https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/10/1/gpr100112.html (last visited on Mar. 23, 2011).
LifeNews Note: Bill Saunders is an AUL vice president and LifeNews blogger. Mary Harned is an AUL staff counsel.