By Colm Willis
On Wednesday the Oregon state legislature held its first hearing on a pro-life bill since 2005. The Oregon House Judiciary Committee took testimony on HB 3512.
The April 6 hearing marked Oregon’s entrance into the current national debate over laws to ban abortions of unborn babies who are capable of experiencing pain.
Unlike other states proposing similar legislation this year, Oregon’s bill faces an uphill battle to get past the Democrat controlled Senate and pro-abortion Governor John Kitzhaber. Despite this, the hearing of HB 3512 was a huge day for the state of Oregon.
The reason why Wednesday’s hearing matters is that the Oregon state legislature has a tradition of passing pro-life legislation. In 1999 a parental notification bill passed both the Oregon House and Oregon Senate before being vetoed by pro-abortion Governor John Kitzhaber. Likewise a partial-birth abortion ban was passed by the Oregon Senate in the same year.
In 2003 an informed consent and 24-hour waiting period bill passed the Oregon House and in 2005 the Oregon house again passed a parental notification bill as well as an Unborn Victims of Violence bill.
Typically candidates running for the state house outside of the Portland metropolitan area must be pro-life to win election; they understand the importance of their pro-life constituency. Planned Parenthood and its allies in the abortion industry are furious over the hearing of HB 3512 because they know that it has energized the pro-life base in Oregon. The hearing created a precedent that a pro-life bill will receive a hearing even when pro-life Republicans do not control any of the branches of government.
The other reason that the hearing of HB 3512 is so important is the sheer volume of abortions that occur late in pregnancy every year. According to Oregon’s Annual Vital Statistics Report, over the past 10 years an average of 250 abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy have occurred every year. Unlike states such as Idaho where the annual reported number of these abortions is in the single digits, here in Oregon dismembering fully formed babies in utero is a booming business.
While the Oregon electorate certainly has libertarian leanings on both sides of the aisle, traditionally Oregon has actually elected a surprising number of pro-life public officials. As recently as 2008 Oregon had a self- described pro-life U.S. Senator, Gordon Smith. And, as recently as 2006 we could boast a pro-life Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, Karen Minnis, who came at the tail end of 15 years of uninterrupted pro-life Republican control of the Oregon House of Representatives.
In 2010 pro-life Republicans in Oregon picked up eight new seats in the legislature and every candidate who won was either endorsed or recommended by Oregon Right to Life PAC. Pro-life electoral successes in Oregon make us very hopeful about the future.
HB 3512’s sponsor, Representative Tim Freeman (R-Roseburg), proved that even in so-called “blue” states such as Oregon the violent dismemberment of unborn infants has made voters and legislators uncomfortable. While most of the press has claimed that this hearing was largely symbolic, the precedent it sets is a significant victory for the unborn in Oregon.
Anyone watching KATU Channel 2 News after Wednesday’s hearing would see Dr. Richard Thorne using a fetal model and scissors to show the entire state just how gruesome these later term abortion procedures are.
With hundreds of abortions occurring after 20 weeks in Oregon every year, this hearing marked the beginning of another struggle for unborn infants in Oregon.
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