When Eugene resident David Kjosness (CHOE-sness) became an office specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, he figured his job would involve typical administration tasks. In 2015, however, he discovered a hidden aspect of his workplace: donating a portion of each paycheck to abortion giant Planned Parenthood through his union dues.
“I was angered and bewildered that they could do that,” says Kjosness. “When I found out that they were taking my money and giving it to a number of organizations I disagree with — and at the top of the list was this huge abortion provider — it just felt like a slap in the face.”
At the time, Kjosness did not have a choice about paying dues to SEIU503, an Oregon public services and care providers union with more than 72,000 members. He also did not have a say in directing where those dues went.
After some research, however, Kjosness found a loophole: by completing and notarizing some paperwork, he could instead direct his union monies to a nonprofit organization of his choice. Pro-life since his teens, Kjosness chose Oregon Right to Life (ORTL).
“Oregon Right to Life has been at the forefront, in my opinion, of saving unborn lives in Oregon,” Kjosness says. “I had heard enough about them to know they were doing the right thing.”
In 2018, after Kjosness had been donating dues to ORTL for three years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v AFSCME that public sector union members no longer had to fork over fees for collective bargaining purposes. Even though Kjosness did not have to pay dues to anyone at that point, he continued donating to ORTL.
“I’m not missing out on that money at all, and I’m going to keep giving because I believe so much in what [ORTL] is doing,” he says. “[Giving financially] was a huge stepping stone to get a bit more involved in right-to-life issues and what it stands for.” To that end, Kjosness and his wife have started attending pro-life conventions and marches.
“I’m going to be involved in pro-life work for the rest of my life,” Kjosness says. “If I don’t stand up for what I believe in, how can I expect anybody else to? The more people who stand up, the more it gives others the courage to stand as well.”“I’m called to be a defender of life — not just certain lives, but all lives.”