Gayle Atteberry’s pro-life journey began as a volunteer in the Eugene chapter of Oregon Right to Life. Soon, she was speaking in high schools about abortion. Gayle continued her activism and became the lobbyist for ORTL. Then, in 1995, she was selected as executive director of the organization. Under her guidance, ORTL more than doubled in size and became one of the most healthy state pro-life organizations in the country. This year, Lois Anderson, ORTL’s director of political operations since 1999, was selected by the board as Gayle’s successor. “Helming a pro-life organization in the most pro-abortion rights state in America is not for the faint of heart,” says Anderson. “Gayle Atteberry has been an extraordinary leader. She built Oregon Right to Life into a powerful and effective voice for Oregon’s most vulnerable citizens.”
There have certainly been disappointments for Oregon’s pro-life movement in the last 22 years. Despite the odds, Atteberry has been enormously successful. Oregon’s abortion rates have dropped over 40% since she assumed leadership of the organization, due in part to her wisdom, passion, and persistence.
In addition to overseeing educational programs, including the website Standupgirl.com, Gayle has been a fixture in Oregon politics, never letting up on the goal to end abortion and physician-assisted suicide. In an article from the Statesman-Journal in 1997, Lynda Harrington, who preceded Atteberry as executive director, said of Gayle, “She’s a person who can smile and laugh. But she can also tell a person to drop dead. Behind closed doors she is very direct. She lets people know exactly what she expects.”
Former and current office holders agree. Former Oregon Speaker of the House (‘03-’05) Karen Minnis said, “Gayle has been a tireless and focused advocate. She is an inspirational leader who has never let discouragement, defeat, or even cancer get her down. It has been an honor to work with her over the years.”
Mike McLane, Oregon House Republican Leader: “Of the many advocates I have worked with, Gayle stands out as a caring yet tenacious leader. I wish her the best for a well-deserved retirement.”
“I’m so proud to have worked alongside Gayle for the last 17 years and honored to succeed her as executive director,” says Anderson. “The team at Oregon Right to Life is dedicated and will continue to fight for justice until all human lives from fertilization to natural death are protected under the law. Until then, we will work to educate Oregonians to protect the vulnerable from abortion, infanticide, physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, and unethical research.”