Your reproductive health care is on the Oregon ballot

Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon is standing behind reproductive health champion Brad Avakian.

By Mary Nolan of Portland, Oregon. Mary is the executive director for Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon.

Over the next week, Oregonians will vote in an election that will have a big impact when it comes to basic health and economic issues. The race between Brad Avakian and Dennis Richardson presents a stark contrast between two candidates with very different views on issues that affect our lives. As the statewide advocate for Planned Parenthood health centers and reproductive rights in Oregon, we simply can’t stay silent. There is too much on the line for reproductive health care and the hundreds of thousands of Oregon women who have relied on a Planned Parenthood health center for quality, affordable, nonjudgmental care.

We need to send a strong message on Election Day to candidates like Richardson that when you attack reproductive health, we voters will reject you. This is about basic respect and equality. And since Richardson doesn’t trust Oregonians to make our own healthcare decisions, then we can’t we trust him to fight for us as Secretary of State.

Oregon’s commitment to protecting and expanding equality for all is at stake in this race. Richardson embodies hostility to more than half of the state’s population, including women, LGBT Oregonians and immigrants.

Our message to Oregon voters is simple: Every vote counts. You can’t complain about the state of things if you don’t vote — like the fact that Latinas earn just 54 cents for every dollar white, non-Latino men earn, while black women earn only about 63 cents. Or the fact that a poll in 2014 showed that more than half of all American women voters ages 18 to 34 report having struggled with the cost of birth control. Or the fact that access to good reproductive health care is a key factor in economic prosperity and improved public health.

That’s why Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon is standing behind reproductive health champion Brad Avakian. He has made it clear that he trusts people and doctors to make their own healthcare decisions. He recognizes that Oregonians want to elect leaders who will create jobs and strengthen the economy, not attack reproductive health care. He has advanced policies that help people struggling to make ends meet and has opposed attacks on reproductive health.

Avakian is a leader we can trust to stand up for us at home and in Salem, because in his own words: “As a civil rights attorney, legislator and now Labor Commissioner, I know access to safe and affordable abortion service is a fundamental civil right. For my daughter, my wife and all other women, I will continue to do all I can to see that every woman continues to have the right to make her own medical decisions.”

The fact is Dennis Richardson has spent his public career fighting against access to reproductive health care. He was one of only nine House members to vote against a bill that required insurers to pay for birth control and required hospitals to provide women emergency contraception in case of rape. He was one of 19 votes against a bill that required public schools to provide age-appropriate sex education.

Richardson led efforts to block young women from accessing safe, legal abortion. He was the chief sponsor of a 2006 ballot measure to impose a parental notification mandate that would endanger young women who are at risk of sexual or physical abuse in their own home. Oregon voters overwhelmingly rejected his reckless attack on reproductive freedom.

Richardson even wrote in a 1990 letter to The Oregonian, “A woman relinquishes her unfettered right to control her own body when her actions cause the conception of a baby.” These views are extreme and out of touch with the majority of Oregonians who believe a woman — not politicians like Dennis Richardson — should be making healthcare decisions in consultation with her family and her doctor and guided by her own faith.

That’s why it’s important to fill in that circle next to Brad Avakian’s name, and be sure to turn in your ballot!

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