Lessons Learned in the Oregon Legislature

This summer is a time of transition for our PAC as the legislative session wraps up and Lois Anderson prepares to become Oregon Right to Life’s executive director. I’ve learned that it’s helpful to process what each season teaches us and use that to plan for next time. I want to share some observations about the legislative process based on my time here at ORTL and my previous work in the state capitol.David Kilada - Political Director

1. The “good guys” have to keep fighting the same battles. This deters some people, but we can’t afford to disengage because we know the pro-death side won’t. Whether anti-life legislation looks different or is exactly the same, we expect it to come back year after year. The “bad guys” will keep putting money or ideology before human lives and we need to maintain our vigilance and our efforts.

2. In politics, money is usually prioritized over protecting the vulnerable. Too many politicians are willing to fight a battle over taxation, but are loathe to put their reputation on the line for those who may never know to thank them. Unfortunately, this is also true of many Oregonians who pay more attention to the personal cost of proposed legislation than ending the policy of legalized abortion during all nine months of pregnancy.

3. You rarely know what’s really happening in politics unless you’re there. Almost without fail, a news article about a subject with which I’m familiar is either inaccurate or misses half the story. Part of my job here at ORTL is to directly inform pro-lifers about when and how to get involved in the legislative process.

4. Sometimes what unites legislators becomes more significant to them than the critically important values that divide them. What unites them by summer time is a burning passion to finish and go home. This and other pressures created by the process can lead to good people losing sight of their pro-life principles and why they are there.

5. Sometimes there are unexpected and unseen heroes. During this session, we worked with anyone who would help us fight SB 494. Sometimes that meant working with people with whom we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Sometimes there are heroes whose instrumental work will go largely unnoticed.

6. Nothing beats old fashioned grassroots advocacy. On SB 494, pro-lifers came through loud and clear. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the most talked about bill in the capitol for some time.While my next focus as political director is on the 2018 elections, the legislature will be back in session before we know it. Yes, pro-lifers won a huge victory this session, but we will stay committed to the fight and to keeping you in the loop. Together we can achieve more pro-life victories in the future!


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