Positive COVID Tests Grind Legislature to a Halt

With a single-party supermajority and completely online testimony, the 81st Oregon Legislative Assembly should be humming along at a substantial pace. Instead, COVID-19 slowed it to a crawl: in mid-March, two positive COVID cases shut down the House of Representatives for over a week. This closure occurred directly before critical deadlines all legislation had to meet to advance.

Unfortunately, Oregon Right to Life’s Born-Alive Infant Protection (SB 586/HB 2699) and Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection (SB 671/HB 2540) acts officially fell to the required public hearing and work session deadline on March 19. The ORTL team is thankful to the 1,452 Oregonians who emailed Sen. Deb Patterson (D-Salem) asking her to hear the Born-Alive bill. We are committed to bringing this legislation back in the short legislative session next year.

Additionally, ORTL is excited to report that one of the worst bills of the session, HB 2121, also did not receive a hearing and died in committee. This bill would have allowed naturopaths to perform abortions and was explicitly introduced to facilitate naturopath employment at Planned Parenthood.

Unfortunately, some lousy legislation is still on the horizon. 

Oregon law intentionally comingles funding for abortion and healthcare. Because of that mixing, the Senate’s recently-passed SJR 12 would refer to voters a constitutional amendment that guarantees the right to healthcare and therefore abortion. SJR 12 is expected to pass the House. We at ORTL will ask voters to reject it next November.

Our team is also watching and encouraged by developments in advance directive legislation (SB 199), fighting the expansion of abortion in women’s prisons (HB 3035) and working to protect the conscience rights of faith-based healthcare providers (HB 2362).

While we would prefer an open and transparent Capitol, ORTL is glad to see this session’s challenges cannot be entirely overcome or dismissed, even for Oregon’s powerful abortion lobby.

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