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CORVALLIS, Oregon, June 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A pro-life group in Oregon is working to build support for a state constitutional amendment that would prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for most abortions.

Pro-life and pro-abortion groups agree that Oregon is one of the most abortion-friendly states in the nation. It has no pro-life laws on the books, is one of 17 states that allows Medicaid funds to be used directly for abortions, and it requires health insurance plans to cover virtually all abortions for any reason, without any copay, under a 2017 law.

“Pregnant women and their babies will be hurt the most by this legislation,” the Corvallis-based Oregon Life United (OLU) said last summer when the law was working its way through the legislature. “It’s long been known that Oregon is the only U.S. state without any laws to protect society’s most vulnerable members from abortion. Now our state’s ruling party has gone even further by codifying into law a mother’s ability to kill her own offspring, at taxpayer expense no less.”

The Corvallis-based Oregon Life United (OLU) hopes to change that. It is currently collecting signatures to place on the ballot a constitutional amendment that would prohibit public funds from financing or reimbursing any abortion, except in cases of physical threats to a mother’s life, ectopic pregnancies, or when expressly mandated by federal law.

Putting the question directly to Oregon voters would bypass both the pro-abortion legislature and an inevitable veto by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, an openly bisexual former abortion lobbyist.

“Instead, we as Oregonians have the unique option of what’s known as Direct Democracy. It’s when we the people propose and pass laws directly — without requiring the involvement of any legislator,” OLU explained. “And the governor will not be able to block or overturn our measure after it has been approved by voters.”

While federal funding of abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood has been estimated to indirectly cover almost 25 percent of all abortion costs, current federal law only allows direct funding of abortions for rape, incest, or physical medical emergencies.

Oregon’s permissive abortion regime has spent almost $24 million on 52,438 in the past 14 fiscal years, OLU says, citing a report from the state Division of Medical Assistance Programs.

The group hopes to collect at least 150,000 signatures by June 30 to get the initiative on the ballot in the November 2018 elections. It currently has 119,000 signatures, narrowly clearing the 117,578 officially needed to qualify, but is hard at work collecting as many additional signatures as possible to cover the percentage of signatures state officials throw out. OLU estimates that a buffer of 15 percent to 20 percent will protect against duplicate names, unregistered voters, and other disqualified signatures.

Oregon Right to Life has declined to donate to the effort, citing past failures and determining pro-life legislative candidates a higher priority. But several county-level Right to Life affiliates have signed on to the effort, which is showing greater strength than it has in years past.

OLU’s progress so far has outpaced its efforts to get similar language on the ballot in 2014 when it gathered 98,000 signatures and and in 2012 when it gathered 72,000 (legal challenges from pro-abortion groups prevented a 2016 effort). This year, the campaign has the support of more than 550 churches in the state, as well as endorsements from Archbishop Alexander Sample, Bishop Liam Cary, former pastor and pro-life author Randy Alcorn, and more.

Support for the cause “grows and grows each time we try it,” Oregon Life United director Jeff Jimerson told Oregon Live.

“I think it has more support than you might expect in a state like Oregon,” he explained to Oregon Public Broadcasting. “There’s a lot of libertarians here, there’s a lot of people here who are sort of like, ‘Hands off, I don’t care what you do, just don’t make me pay for it.’”

On the campaign’s website, Oregon Life United lists a number of ways Oregonians can help, including signing the petition, helping circulate petitions, donating to the effort, promoting it on social media, and praying for those working to end taxpayer abortion funding in the state.