Oregon gubernatorial candidates eye reproductive rights as election day nears

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 10:34 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Abortion rights are still in the spotlight following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion a Constitutional right. As Oregonians prepare to vote in the midterm elections, questions remain as to whether reproductive rights will impact their choices.

In Oregon reproductive rights are strongly protected, but candidates in the gubernatorial race still say the issue is pushing people to the polls.

“It was a wakeup call for Oregonians that value the access to health care that we have here,” said Democratic candidate Tina Kotek.

The pro-choice Kotek touts Oregon’s progressive abortion laws. But she says voters in her state are aware of other states passing laws to make abortion illegal, keeping the issue in focus at the polls.

“I would definitely say Oregonians are energized,” said An Do, executive director of the pro-choice organization Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.

Do says abortion protections in Oregon should not be taken for granted.

“People genuinely care and they’re also genuinely scared,” said Do.

Do’s organization is supporting Kotek for governor, but independent candidate Betsy Johnson once served on the board of Planned Parenthood. She thinks the issue will play a significant role in how Oregonians vote.

“I personally think that a position that would take away a woman’s right to choose and may even flow over into other legislation that speaks to the issue of reproductive freedom and reproductive health care decisions is a disqualifier,” said Johnson.

Republican candidate Christine Drazan is anti-abortion. But she does not believe the issue should be what drives voters to the polls.

“Choice is already an Oregon statute. And so what we have here is an executive branch position that is not legislative that is responsible for overseeing how our government functions. And frankly it’s been functioning poorly,” said Drazan.

Paul Manson, a political expert from Reed Colleg in Portland does not think Drazan’s views are disqualifying in the deep blue Beaver State. Manson argues her stance could even energize an anti-abortion electorate that otherwise might not vote.

“There’s more room there than maybe a lot of folks realize. The nuances, the details of abortion policy perspectives in the U.S. are really complex,” said Manson.

Election Day is November 8 when Oregonians will choose their next governor. Voters can also mail in their ballots before then.

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