By ANN MONTAGUE
Two ballot measures, on immigration and on abortion rights, were rejected by large margins in Oregon on Nov. 6. The attack on immigrants would have repealed Oregon 31-year-old sanctuary law, which protected immigrants from discrimination and federal immigration law enforcement. It was the first such law in the nation.
The local organization behind the ballot measure was Oregonians For Immigration Law Reform. They have been linked to white nationalism and labeled as an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In Oregon local police cannot detain individuals based solely on their immigration status or inform federal immigration agents about a person’s immigration status. The weakness of the law is that it does not protect people from deportation and does not ban ICE.
Ramon Ramirez is a civil rights activist and the co-founder of Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, the union for farm workers in the northwest. He likes to remind people what it was like before the sanctuary law: “Back then, local police would partner with federal immigration officials and conduct roadblock raids. Every three months at 5 a.m., local police would stop cars holding people of color and ask to see their papers. Waiting on the side of the road were immigration buses ready to ship people back across the border. I can’t believe this state is arguing over this law 31 years after it was passed.” Repealing the sanctuary law was soundly rejected, 62.7% to 37.3%.
Oregon is the only state that has no restrictions on abortion. Abortion rights are set out in the state constitution. This year, there was a ballot measure to change the constitution and prohibit state funds to pay for abortion. This would prohibit the Oregon Health Plan (expanded Medicaid) from paying for abortion services. It would also mean that the health plans of state workers could not cover abortion.
The right to abortion is protected by the state constitution, which clearly states there are no exceptions. There are no waiting periods, no mandatory ultrasounds or counseling, and minors are not required to inform or gain consent from a parent. State funds are used to pay for abortions through the Oregon Health Plan. In 2009 the Oregon State Board Of Nursing issued a decision that suction and aspiration abortions are within the scope of practice of properly trained Family Health Nurse Practitioners.
Ballot measures that attempt to restrict state funding or require parental notification have been consistently defeated in 1978, 1986, 1990, and 2006. This year the ballot measure again went down to defeat, 64% to 36%.