Editor’s Note: After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the abortion protections written into Roe v. Wade, OPB reached out to the three leading candidates to become Oregon’s next governor to see where they fall on the issues. Here are Democrat Tina Kotek’s responses to our written questions:
Would you support any restrictions to accessing abortions? (For example, limits on abortions later in a pregnancy.)
The decision to have an abortion is a personal health care decision and should not be infringed upon by government.
Would you support a constitutional amendment enshrining the right to access an abortion in the state constitution?
Yes, I would support a constitutional amendment to protect abortion access and every person’s fundamental human right to have agency over their bodies and lives.
Right now, abortion is legal and remains protected in Oregon. I made sure of that by passing the nation’s strongest abortion access law, the Reproductive Health Equity Act. But, who our next governor is will be critical. Governors are the last line of defense against abortion bans and sneaky attempts by anti-abortion politicians to chip away at access. As for my opponents, former Representative Christine Drazan proudly states that she is anti-choice and has earned the endorsement of the anti-abortion group Oregon Right to Life. And former State Senator Betsy Johnson promoted Bridget Barton, an anti-choice, right wing extremist, to help run her campaign. Barton even put out a video saying that Betsy Johnson would be “virtually identical” to Drazan when it comes to reproductive rights. As your Governor, I will always stand up to defend reproductive rights in Oregon. That’s a promise.
Why has the right to access an abortion been an issue that is important to you?
This is about personal autonomy and a right to privacy. It’s about women having power over their own lives to decide if, and when, to start or grow a family. There is nothing just in forcing women to give birth against their wishes.
If elected governor, would you veto any legislation that attempted to restrict abortion access?
Yes. I have always been a champion for reproductive freedom, which is why I led the way to pass the nation’s strongest abortion access law. Oregon’s leading reproductive rights organizations, including Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon and Pro-Choice Oregon, have endorsed me because they know that they can trust me and me alone to always stand up and fight for reproductive freedom.
Do you support using Oregon taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions for people who live outside of Oregon?
Yes. I believe strongly in providing access to health care, and rights mean nothing if you cannot access them. Right now, half of U.S. women are at risk of losing access to reproductive health care. Many already have due to trigger bans that went into effect right after Roe was overturned. This is about freedom and justice. Oregon has long been a leader when it comes to reproductive rights, and as Governor, I will keep it that way.
What would your response be if, while serving as governor, the federal government enacted a federal abortion ban?
From what anti-choice extremists in Oregon and around the country are saying, a federal ban is what they are setting their sights on next. I will not be idle in this fight. I will proactively support the work already started to defend this fundamental right for Oregonians no matter what happens on the federal level. If the federal government enacts a ban on abortion, I will use every tool available to me to fight back. Here’s my promise to Oregonians: If the federal government ever tries to strip away your right to reproductive freedom, I will be the first person in the ring fighting back.
What is your position on gender-affirming care?
Gender-affirming care is health care, period. Everyone should be able to access the health care they need to lead healthy and authentic lives.
Would you support a constitutional amendment to protect the right to same-sex marriage in Oregon?
I would veto any legislation that undermines marriage equality in Oregon. And I would support a constitutional amendment to defend the existing right of same-sex couples to marry. This is obviously personal for me. I will defend my marriage. Justice Thomas’ opinion in the Dobbs case has set off alarm bells for many people. Everything is on the line now – access to birth control and contraception, marriage equality, gender affirming care, and more. As your Governor, I will always be ready to stand up for what I believe and fight back against injustice.