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Abortion Rights Will Be a “Potent Midterm Issue”

Kansas Ballot Measure Voted Down, First Debate Reveals Contrasts, and Johnson Campaign Lies About Not Receiving Questionnaires

[Portland, OR] – This week, a ballot measure in Kansas that would have allowed lawmakers to ban abortion was rejected “in dramatic numbers and by an overwhelming margin.” Voters in Kansas sent a message to the nation: abortion access is a potent issue that will motivate voters this year.

As CNN reported, “the ballot measure’s defeat – on a day of extraordinary turnout – also provides a clear indication that the desire to defend abortion rights could be a potent issue for Democrats in the coming midterm elections.”

In 2018, Oregon voters “trounced” a ballot measure that would have restricted public funding for abortion in the state. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court and national Republicans have put reproductive rights on the ballot again, and in Oregon, it’s a defining contrast in the Governor’s race.

During last week’s debate, the issue once again came to the forefront. Tina Kotek made her position clear when she said, “Abortion is health care. Oregonians believe the government should stay out of these decisions.”

Watch Tina outline the stakes for reproductive rights in this year’s election in this clip from the debate:

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Christine Drazan celebrated when Roe v. Wade was overturned and touts her long-standing support from anti-abortion extremist group Oregon Right to Life. And in the debate, she seemed to “signal support” for a bill that Oregon Right to Life is planning to bring to lawmakers in the 2023 legislative session that would ban abortions later in pregnancy.

Conservative candidate Betsy Johnson has proven she can’t be trusted on this important issue either. The head of “Republicans for Betsy” shared a video in June proclaiming that on the issue of abortion, Johnson is “virtually identical” to Oregon Right to Life-endorsed candidate Christine Drazan.

And, on the debate stage, that contrast came into full view. When asked about defending access to abortion, former Senator Betsy Johnson criticized Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Fund, an innovative new program intended to support women’s access to abortion care.

Tina pushed back with strong support for the Reproductive Health Equity Fund, arguing “we’re in too big of a moment to say ‘no’ to women who need access to care.” That’s why Tina is the only candidate in the race endorsed by Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon and Pro-Choice Oregon.

Watch the exchange in this clip from the debate:

Johnson’s campaign also made news this week for making false accusations against Oregon’s two leading reproductive rights organizations: Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon and Pro-Choice Oregon PAC.

Johnson’s campaign falsely told The Oregonian’s Hillary Borrud that “none of the pro-choice groups who endorsed Tina Kotek have even asked our campaign to fill out a questionnaire.”

Unfortunately for former Senator Johnson, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon and Pro-Choice Oregon PAC both have evidence that they invited the Johnson campaign to participate in their endorsement processes. Johnson never replied, and never proactively asked either organization about their process.

From the Oregonian:

“Jimmy Radosta, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, provided a copy of an email that Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon Political Director Cassie Purdy sent to Johnson on Dec. 17 inviting her to participate in the group’s endorsement process. ‘We didn’t receive a reply to this email, nor did the (Johnson) campaign proactively reach out to us to inquire about our endorsement process’” …

“Evelyn Estrada, political director for Pro-Choice Oregon, said in an email that the group invited Johnson to participate in its endorsement process but Johnson ‘did not reply to our invitation or follow up email.’”

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