On February 1, the Oregon legislature will convene for what has become known as the “short session.” Oregon voters established annual sessions in 2010. The even year session is limited to 35 session days, as opposed to the odd year sessions which are 160 days.
While originally designed for budget review and emergencies, the short session has quickly escalated into a full-blown session that considers significant legislation. Each member is allowed to introduce two bills and legislative committees and certain government officials, such as the governor, are also allowed a number of bills. This opens up both opportunities and risks for efforts to protect innocent life in Oregon. Because the session is short, the process moves much more quickly and requires swift response, which makes it more difficult for Oregonians to influence the process.
Oregon Right to Life is not introducing legislation during this year’s session. However, Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer) is introducing a bill to establish a Pregnant Women’s Assistance Fund, which will redirect the tax dollars that currently pay for abortions to help mothers and babies.
It is also necessary to watch closely for any efforts to expand abortion practices in Oregon. Recently, Representative Jennifer Williamson, a past board member of Planned Parenthood and now the House Majority Leader, sent an email decrying the successful efforts in Texas to pass pro-life legislation. She stated that she will “continue to lead the effort to expand insurance coverage for birth control and all reproductive health services in Oregon.”
How Williamson’s efforts will play out in Salem this February has yet to be seen. Thankfully, there are dedicated pro-life House and Senate members who will fight these efforts, but they will need your help. It is very important to watch for email updates and action alerts from Oregon Right to Life during this time.