Placing Measure 106 on the 2018 ballot was the culmination of more than seven years of statewide education and awareness-building on the issue of taxpayer-funded abortion.
Oregon Life United, a pro-life and non-partisan political action committee (PAC), coordinated more than 10,000 volunteer petition circulators who gathered signatures to give voters an opportunity to stop state funding of abortion this past fall. Unfortunately, even though 658,000 people voted Yes on Measure 106, it fell well short of the majority we needed for it to pass.
Approximately 2,400 people wrote a check or contributed online to support Oregon Life United PAC in 2018, giving a total of $434,024 for the year. The generosity of these individuals enabled us to print and mail petitions, recruit and train volunteers, organize several major events, and grow a statewide network of pro-life individuals and organizations to help us reach the ballot.
Additionally, funds raised last year were used to get-out-the-vote for Measure 106. This included the cost of a large booth at the Oregon State Fair, printing statements in the voters’ pamphlet, placing billboards along busy highways such as I-5 and I-84, running TV and radio ads, purchasing truckloads of field and yard signs, and promoting our “Vote Yes” message on social media.
While the outcome of election day was certainly discouraging, we know that many good things have come from our efforts. What we’ve accomplished together has truly been monumental, and our labor was not in vain. First and foremost, regardless of the election results, we have been obedient to the biblical instruction to put our faith into action. As followers of Jesus we are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), to expose the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11), and to defend the weak (Psalm 82:3-4, Proverbs 31:8-9). May we not grow weary in doing good.
We want to encourage those who answered the call to invest time and money into this effort by sharing with you some of our accomplishments and highlights from last year’s activities.
We kicked off the year remembering the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with three impactful events held over two days in Portland, Salem, and Medford. Each “Speak Life!” rally featured several local speakers and touching personal testimonies, with an inspiring keynote speech delivered by former Governor of Arkansas and U.S. presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee. Over the course of the January weekend, an estimated 2,000 people came to hear Gov. Huckabee tell the story of how his career in public service began, in part, because of the involvement he had with pro-life ballot initiatives in his home state.
In May we held our second series of Speak Life! events back-to-back at large churches in Corvallis and Bend. Our keynote speaker was the unforgettable Gianna Jessen. She wove together her story of miraculously surviving an attempted abortion, choosing to forgive her birth mother (they met many years later), and the eternal hope and forgiveness available to us only through the Cross.
Less than three weeks later we held a third Speak Life! series, this time at churches in The Dalles and Lake Oswego. Our keynote speaker was Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director who today leads an organization to help other women and men leave the abortion industry.
An estimated total of 1,500 people attended the four springtime forums, each featuring a powerful testimony from a woman who has experienced pain and regret after choosing abortion. We invited speakers from local pro-life pregnancy resource centers to share about the good work they do, and also provided free table space to help promote organizations such as Students for Life and 40 Days for Life. We also distributed thousands of petition sheets and invited those in attendance to gather signatures and financially support the effort.
At this point, in early June, we were still short a significant number of signatures to reach the ballot. Funds raised enabled us to mail petitions to tens of thousands of pro-life households in the final days leading up to the July 6th deadline.
A minimum of 117,578 valid signatures were required, with 20% extra recommended to give a cushion of safety. We ended up submitting more than 141,000 to the state elections office for verification. Prior to delivering the petitions to Salem, our volunteers worked for weeks sorting sheets and crossing out thousands of duplicate signatures in order to reduce the likelihood of penalties being assessed during the signature verification stage. Finding and removing these mistakes would have been impossible without the use of a custom software system we developed at the beginning of the petition drive, which automatically flagged duplicates as the petitions were processed by our team. This investment paid off, as not a single duplicate was found in the sample of signatures that was reviewed by the elections office.
On July 27th it was confirmed we had indeed qualified for the November ballot, this after two previously unsuccessful attempts in 2012 and 2014. According to the Oregonian, ours was the first all-volunteer petition drive to qualify for the state ballot in 18 years.
The next few months were a whirlwind. We developed campaign messaging, publicly introduced Measure 106 at the Oregon State Fair, and launched a new website and Facebook presence. We also coordinated 23 voters’ pamphlet statements that included the testimonies of a dozen brave women who shared about the harmful effects of their abortions.
With the help of about 40 volunteers, we were able to distribute and install more than 5,000 yard and field signs around the state. Our highway billboards also began to appear in late September to promote Measure 106.
In early October we produced several video ads with women who spoke passionately in support of the measure, including some of the women whose stories were printed in the voters’ pamphlet. A moving, three-minute-long video featuring Deborah Tilden, Cindy Brunk, and Elizabeth Gillette was viewed by countless thousands of people at churches or online at the “Yes on 106” website. Additionally, we created shorter 30- and 60-second ads that aired on cable TV and were promoted on YouTube and Facebook.
Lastly, we called for a ten-day period of prayer and fasting leading up to when ballots were due on November 6th. It was a joy to pray with, and labor alongside, so many in this worthy cause. Please continue to join us in prayer for wisdom and direction regarding what’s next for Oregon Life United.
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Special thanks to Evan Roth (photos of Mike Huckabee, Gianna Jessen, and Abby Johnson) and Marc Salvatore (photos of Mike Huckabee).