In 1988, the Reagan Administration announced regulations prohibiting family planning clinics, which received federal funds, from providing information about, or making referrals for, abortion services.
I was serving as public affairs director for our local Planned Parenthood affiliate in 1991, when the courts decided that rule could move forward. One of my first actions was to contact then-Governor Barbara Roberts and ask that she speak out on the devastating impact these rules would have on Oregon women seeking pregnancy testing and counseling through county health departments and Planned Parenthood clinics.
Within hours, Gov. Roberts was standing outside her office in the Capitol holding a press conference on the subject. "Not in my state, not on my watch" are the words I remember. "We will never withhold information from women seeking family planning services in our state."
Luckily for women across the country, the clock ran out on the Reagan administration and those rules never went into effect. But now, 30 years later, the Trump Administration is back at it.
Who will stand with women this time?
Knute Buehler wants Oregonians to see him as a "different kind" of Republican candidate, calling himself "pro-choice." Yet in the same breath, he has been complaining that reproductive health advocates are holding him to some "new litmus test" by criticizing his vote against the Oregon Reproductive Health Act in 2017, among other things.
That's right, in his one and only opportunity to vote in support of women's right to choose, he voted "no."
Buehler's complaints reveal how little he knows of the damage that the wrong government policies can do not just to women's autonomy, but to their physical health and the well-being of their families. In states across the country, legislators are making it more difficult to provide abortion services. We have a president who wants nothing more than to please the radical right anti-abortion movement. Meanwhile in Oregon, anti-abortion forces want to take away the option of abortion for poor women entirely.
Yes, Rep. Buehler, women in 2018 have a right to expect more from a candidate for governor than just saying the words "pro-choice." You may choose to mince words and use labels, but women know that what's most important is your record of voting against choice.
When Planned Parenthood seeks help this time around, I know that Gov. Kate Brown will be there to stand with them. I know this because it's what she has always done — as an advocate, a legislator and as Oregon's Governor. Based on what I've seen to date, I expect Buehler to duck and weave and talk about his support for abortions that are "medically necessary," an undefined standard not applied to any other health care service.
The women of Oregon need a governor who will stand with them and against groups like Oregon Right to Life and elected officials like Donald Trump. With choice under threat, there's only one candidate that we can truly rely on to protect women's access: Kate Brown.