The Oregonian blows it again: Why reproductive rights matter in the Labor Commissioner race.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Last week, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian called on his opponent, Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro), to reject the Republican party platform that calls for a ban on all abortions - even when a woman is the victim of rape or incest, or when the woman's life is at stake. (You can co-sign Avakian's letter to Starr here.)

I hope you’ll agree with me that this policy presents a serious threat to the health of Oregon’s women and is an unacceptable infringement on personal medical decisions that must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor or health care provider.

As the chief elected official protecting Oregonians’ civil rights, I believe in respecting the real-life decisions that women and their families face every day. And I believe strongly that all elected officials – regardless of party affiliation – must speak up when women’s health is threatened.

Yesterday, the Oregonian editorial was both dismissive and indignant:

Could somebody please tell Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian that his position handles workplace issues, not matters of child birth? "Labor" does have multiple meanings, but, jeez, you'd think Avakian could tell them apart after more than four years on the job. ... [W]hat the heck does an easily ridiculed plank in the GOP platform have to do with the Bureau of Labor and Industries? ... [T]his was a ham-fisted attempt to play the abortion card.

Sorry, anonymous-editorial-writer at the Big O, but you've missed the whole point.

Oregon's labor commissioner has one main job - protecting the civil rights of Oregonians in the workplace and in housing. Some of those rules and regulations are pretty complex and hard to understand. If Oregonians can’t count on Bruce Starr to defend this most basic civil right – the right of a woman to make her own health care decisions – then how can Oregonians count on him to defend the more-complex civil rights in the workplace and housing? It's a signal issue - one that tells voters something fundamental about the candidates' approach to civil rights.

In addition, Oregonians expect their elected officials to speak up and speak out. There are lots and lots of examples where something bad could have been avoided if someone had just raised their hand. "That's not my job" isn't an acceptable answer. And it's not the way that leaders act. Leaders should lead. And it's a little bizarre that the Oregonian newspaper would have politicians hide under their desk rather than take bold stands on issues that matter.

I'm proud to stand with Brad Avakian - and I'm proud that he's unafraid to talk about things that matter to Oregonians, whether or not it's in the formal job description.

The bottom line is this: Brad Avakian trusts women, not politicians, to make decisions about their health care. Bruce Starr would rather put extremist politicians in charge of those decisions.

Comments

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    Full disclosure: My firm built Brad Avakian's campaign website. I speak only for myself.

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    The 'O" seems to be on a losing streak with Measure 85 and now this.

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    Really what does being Labor Commissioner have to do with the Republican party platform that calls for a ban on all abortions? Can he overturn Roe vs Wade or place limits on abortions in Oregon? These issues have nothing to do with who is worthy to be labor commissioner.

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      Perhaps you should read the column I wrote above. I kind of explained the reason why I think it matters.

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        To suggest that because Bruce Star happens to be a member of a party that calls for a ban on all abortions - even when a woman is the victim of rape or incest, or when the woman's life is at stake, he cannot be counted defend the more-complex civil rights in the workplace and housing seems just plain ridiculous to me. That is quite a leap your making there.

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          I would suggest that any elected leader who happens to be a member of a party that calls for a ban on all abortions - even when a woman is the victim of rape or incest, or when the woman's life is at stake, cannot be trusted with any responsible position. But then I suppose I'm biased.

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          Bruce Star happens to be a member of a party that calls for a ban on all abortions...

          Whoa. This isn't guilt-by-association. I'm not blaming Starr for a position his party has, but he doesn't share.

          No, Starr shares that position with his party. He cannot, in fact, be trusted to defend women's rights to decide for themselves about their own health care.

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    "Oregonian" and "blows it" seems to be something of a tautology.

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    Oregonian editorials make sense as long as you ignore the same aspects of reality that the editorial writer ignored.

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    It is important for Oregonians to understand that Republicans seeking office do so with the implicit, and explicit, support of wealthy Republicans who seek to enforce their reactionary vision of America on the rest of us. Pre-emptive efforts to prevent them from attaining positions of authority are, what is needed, as we know from too many years of stealth candidates and their stealth platforms.

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    This is what you get with carpet-bagger editors. The O should be embarrassed -- their organization doesn't know the basic functions of a statewide elected Oregon law.

    Admittedly, those functions are unusual here.

    Contrary to the O editorialist's assumptions, not all workplace issues fall under the Bureau of Labor and Industries, which the Labor Commissioner heads, and not all LC functions concern the workplace.

    For instance, unlike in Washington to the north, occupational safety and health fall under the Department of Consumer and Business Services -- it should really be with BOLI or with OHA. So does Workers' Compensation. That one's more arguable, since DCBS handles insurance regulation generally.

    To slightly sharpen Sue Hagmeier's point, prohibiting discrimination specifically includes discrimination based on sex. The question is, can Bruce Starr be trusted to enforce women's civil rights? (Men's too potentially of course, but in the real world, sex discrimination affects mainly women.) As Sue points out, the LC's job goes beyond workplace and even beyond job market when it comes to civil rights.

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    bravo, Kari. i don't always make the common sense connections. i appreciate those who help where my own brain lacks.

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