As the Nov. 7 general election nears, The Skanner continues to bring readers an overview of ballot measures.
This week's issues include parental notification for abortions, inclusion of all Oregonians in a statewide prescription drug pool to lower costs and term limits for state legislators. See last week for measures 39, 40, 41 and 42.
Next week, The Skanner will wrap up its look at statewide ballot issues, which will deal with campaign contributions and state spending.
Voters can register for the election until Oct. 17. A registration form can be downloaded from the state Elections Division Web site, www.sos.state.or.us/elections/votreg/vreg.htm.
Multnomah County residents will receive their mail ballots during the week of Oct. 23. They must be turned in to the county elections division or a drop box no later than 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. Postmarks do not count. Check the Multnomah County Elections Division Web site, www.co.multnomah.or.us/dbcs/elections/, for drop box locations.
Voters will be asked to consider the following measures:
Ballot Measure 43: Requires an abortion provider to give 48-hour notice to an unemancipated minor's parent before an abortion is performed. The measure also authorizes a lawsuit and discipline of the physician if notice is not given.
If you vote "yes": A yes vote would require physicians to give 48-hour written notice to the parents of a minor 15 years or older before performing an abortion and would authorize parents to sue the physician if they aren't notified. Exceptions are allowed if the parents are notified in person, if a medical emergency occurs or if the minor obtains authorization from the Department of Human Services or a court.
If you vote "no": A no vote retains the current law allowing a medical provider to perform an abortion on minors 15 years old and older without first notifying the parents or guardians. Younger minors require parental consent.
Current law allows minors 15 years old and older to obtain medical treatment, including abortion without first notifying their parents. Physicians can, however, notify parents without the minor's consent. Minors 14 years old and younger must obtain parental consent. Under the proposed measure, physicians who fail to notify the parents by certified mail at the parents' residence could face a lawsuit and/or administrative sanctions, including license suspension or revocation. If a minor doesn't want to notify her parents, she can apply for an administrative hearing requesting an abortion. The hearing is confidential, open only to the minor, her counsel, witnesses and the judge.
What supporters of Ballot Measure 43 say: Parents are required to give their permission for other medical treatments for their underage children, why shouldn't the law also apply to abortions? Supporters say parental notification would keep their pregnant daughters from feeling alone or pressured to have an abortion and could prevent dangerous psychological effects and other physical complications. It also would open up communication for girls who are too afraid to talk. Oregon is only one of six states without parental notification laws, they note.
Children who are in abusive families can seek an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge from the Oregon Department of Human Services, supporters add; from there, the minor can appeal to a trial court. The measure also would shed light on criminal acts, such as incest or statutory rape, that otherwise might be covered up if a girl seeks an abortion or is forced by the rapist to get an abortion.
Supporters: Supporters of Ballot Measure 43 include Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton, Oregon Right to Life, Oregon Women's League, several physicians from the American Academy of Medical Ethics, Stronger Families for Oregon.
What opponents to Ballot Measure 43 say: Opponents worry that parental notification might cause a girl to run away or hurt herself or that abusive parents could harm her when they learn she is pregnant. They say that notifying a parent should take more consideration than an impersonal letter, and they note that notification must be given even in the case of incest or rape. If the pregnant minor seeks a hearing, she may have to pay attorneys' fees and court costs. In addition, the judge conducting the hearing is not required to be an actual judge, nor even to be a lawyer. The measure also threatens to shut down doctors' offices, which could impact the health of all women, opponents add.
Opponents: Oregon Medical Association, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon chapter of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Oregon Education Association, National Association of Social Workers, former Gov. Barbara Roberts, Portland Mayor Tom Potter, Democratic Party of Oregon.
Ballot Measure 44: Allows any Oregon resident without prescription drug coverage to participate in the Oregon Prescription Drug Program.
If you vote yes: A "yes" vote expands the eligibility of those in the Oregon Prescription Drug Program to Oregon residents without prescription drug coverage (except Medicare), regardless of income.
If you vote no: A "no" vote retains the current law that limits participation in the Oregon Prescription Drug Program to Oregon residents over age 54 who meet certain income limits.
The current law allows Oregon residents over age 54 whose income doesn't exceed 185 percent of federal poverty guidelines ($18,130 per person) and who haven't had private prescription drug coverage for the past six months to participate in the Oregon Prescription Drug Program. The program's administrator is authorized to negotiate price discounts, purchase drugs on behalf of participants and to reimburse pharmacies. The proposed measure would allow all Oregon residents to participate if they have no prescription drug coverage except Medicare Part D.
What supporters say: More than 1 million Oregonians would be eligible to join the state's drug purchasing pool, according to supporters. The measure would help contain health care costs for all residents because more expensive emergency room visits or treatments can be avoided. It won't cost anything extra, supporters add, because the program already exists. In addition, it will help minority communities that already are medically underserved.
Supporters: Supporters include Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton, the Asian Health and Service Center, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, Urban League of Portland, Oregon Health Action Campaign, AARP, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Oregon Education Association, Oregon Pediatric Society, American Federation of Teachers-Oregon.
Opponents: No opponents have filed any statements with the state Elections Division.
Ballot Measure 45: Limits the terms of state legislators: six years as representative, eight years as senator and 14 years total in the Legislature.
If you vote yes: A "yes" vote would limit the number of years that a state representative and a senator can serve.
If you vote no: A "no" vote retains the current state law, which doesn't limit the length of service or the number of years in the Legislature.
This constitutional amendment places term limits on legislators and also takes into account previous legislative service before the measure's effective date. However, legislators elected before next Jan. 1 are allowed to complete their terms of office. Those in office now cannot run for re-election if their term exceeded the limits. A former term limits law, approved in 1992, was overturned by the Oregon Supreme Court on a technicality.
What supporters say about Ballot Measure 45: Supporters say Ballot Measure 45 will give greater voter control over the Legislature; put an end to the "seniority system"; allow more equal power-sharing among legislators that rewards merit; provide more candidates in an election and more interesting campaigns; put an end to the "good-old-boy club and allow more opportunity for women and minorities to hold office; and reduce the power of lobbyists and bureaucrats.
Supporters: Supporters include Women Voters in Oregon, Committee to Restore Oregon's Term Limits.
What opponents say about Ballot Measure 45: The measure would shift power away from the Legislature because lobbyists and bureaucrats could exert more influence on inexperienced legislators who have no historical perspective and don't understand the nuances of complex issues. Inexperienced legislators don't know how to develop relationships to move legislation forward, according to supporters, or how to manage legislative sessions so they are shorter and cost less. Term limits also throws out good legislators with those who aren't as effective, supporters note. The best term limits, they say, are already here: They're called "elections."
Opponents: Opponents include the Oregon School Employees Association, Oregon Small Business Coalition, Oregon Medical Association, BikePAC and the League of Women Voters of Oregon.