Antiabortion Ballot Proposal Falls Short in Oregon

July 6, 2012 — An Oregon ballot proposal aimed at prohibiting public funding of abortions failed to obtain the required number of signatures needed to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot, Willamette Week reports.

Initiative Petition 25 would have banned the use of taxpayer funding to pay for abortion care, except to save the life of the woman "or as may be required by federal law" (Jaquiss, Willamette Week, 7/5). The measure needed 116,284 valid signatures by Friday to qualify for the ballot.

In an email on Wednesday, Jeff Jimerson -- the measure's chief sponsor -- conceded that the amendment would not make the ballot this year. "With just two days left to deliver signed petitions to the Secretary of State, we've got only about 70,000 signatures in hand," he wrote. In an interview, he added that he was "not giving up" and might try to qualify the measure for the 2014 ballot.

The initiative received minimal support from the state's largest antiabortion-rights group, Oregon Right to Life. ORTL Executive Director Gayle Atteberry said the group was "supportive" of the initiative but "did not think it was the best use of our money this year." She added that "nationally, we see a great sentiment against using tax money for abortions. But it's not as high here" (Mapes, Oregonian, 7/5).

Abortion-rights supporters welcomed news of the measure's defeat. Maura Roche, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said, "Oregonian voters have proven once again that they are committed to protecting access to health care for all women in our state, and they saw that this vague and confusing proposal posed a real threat to that" (Wong, Salem Statesman Journal, 7/5).