Abortion on the Ballot
by Lisa Stiller
In the state I live in – Oregon – over 50% of the people are underinsured according to a 2017 report by the state. A 2020 report puts our estimated homeless population at 14,655 on any given day. The state poverty rate is currently about 9 percent.
We have three very contentious Congressional races right now. And a very tight governor’s race.
What are most of our candidates campaigning on? At least the Democrat and Independent candidates? Abortion. No, not about those reasons – such as poverty – why people might seek abortion. Just about abortion.
And the Guttmacher Institute reports that 73% of women seeking abortion do so at least partly because they’re afraid they can’t afford a baby.
Just recently, President Biden also put abortion on the ballot by promising to “codify Roe” first thing if Congress remains in Democrats’ hands.
Candidate X will make sure that all people who want an abortion in this state will have one, or will ensure that Congress protects the right to abortion. That is the lead in most of the ads. Some go on to mention other issues, such as homelessness and housing, and gun safety.
The Republican candidates’ ads mostly address crime and homelessness and the fear that people will lose their guns. They don’t mention abortion.
I’m sure other states are experiencing the same types of ads.
When the license to kill becomes the number one issue candidates put forth in their ads, it’s time to examine how our culture of death has permeated the mainstream – and how we can fix it.
Most of all, it puts pro-life progressives in a very troubling position. Our Republican candidates want to cut funding to those programs that reduce poverty and homelessness, statewide and nationally. They want to make cuts that would affect access to health care and reduce spending on education. They don’t want to fund programs that could actually reduce abortion rates.
A Republican governor won’t be able to do much about abortion here, as we’ll continue to have a Democratic majority in our legislature. The “right” to abortion was codified in the state constitution in 2017. A Republican governor isn’t going to get that reversed. And too many Republicans are against a national law opposing abortion for that possibility to become a reality any time soon.
So why are our candidates so focused on this? They know it will get out the vote.
Abortion is on the ballot, claim the ads of all our Democratic and Independent governor candidates, and all our Democratic Congressional candidates. Life-giving, life-affirming issues take a back seat.
Why don’t our candidates feel that the fact that we have close to 15,000 homeless individuals in the state, almost one out of ten people living in poverty, inspire people to vote?
Maybe, sadly, the question should be why don’t these facts inspire people to vote as much as “protecting access to abortion” – which isn’t even at risk here?
Abortion is so much “on the ballot” that it has now become a part of other issues we should be supporting. Phrases like “protect our democracy” and “protect our freedoms” are code for protecting the “right to choose.”
We should be supporting voter protection and fighting voter suppression. We should be supporting legislation that will help prevent another January 6, 2021. But when abortion becomes part of that campaign, how can we support the campaign?
The same thing has been happening with the single payer health care movement, which is now demanding that the right to “abortion care” be protected. Universal health care should not be a partisan issue. Inserting abortion “rights” into other issues adds to the toxic, divisive environment we are living in post Roe. How can I support those issues so important to me when they have taken on advocacy for the right to kill?
An emphasis on individual freedom (“my body, my choice”) and the fear of losing this freedom seems to be a huge motivating factor, despite the fact that the fear is largely unfounded. When did Democrats lose their emphasis on helping the most vulnerable, on addressing poverty? On helping people lead a more productive life, on raising the minimum wage?
And how do we vote? Voting for candidates who make abortion access their central issue poses some moral questions. But so does voting for candidates who want to cut funding to the programs that help reduce poverty, access to health care and affordable housing, and who oppose reasonable gun safety legislation. And not voting doesn’t feel like a good option, as we fear our democracy depends on our voting to help it thrive.
I hope I find an answer before Election Day. But meanwhile the right to kill is still on the ballot.
We need to speak up about this. I have emailed our Democratic and Independent candidates, asking them to put those issues that affect so many of us up front: inflation, housing, more people slipping into poverty, higher medical costs preventing people from accessing care. I hope they listen.
We need to find a way to make a culture of life, not a culture of death, take priority in our elections.
Since referendums give a much cleaner way to vote directly on issues, we have several that we’re tracking:
For more of our posts on voting, see:
A reminder: The Consistent Life Network doesn’t necessarily endorse everything said in its blog, since we encourage individual writers to express a variety of views. This is especially so when analyzing elections.