Oregonians have a long and proud history of protecting all women’s right to an abortion, and now they’re being asked to protect that right specifically for the poorest Oregonians.

They can, and should, do so by rejecting Ballot Measure 106.

Five times in the last 40 years Oregonians been asked to approve limits on the medical procedure. Twice the question centered on minors. In 1990, an outright ban, with limited exceptions, was proposed. And in 1978 and 1986 voters were asked to cut off state funds for the procedure. In every case, they said no.

Supporters of Measure 106 argue that taxpayers should not be required to pay for women’s abortions in nearly all circumstances, though the measure does carve out a handful of exceptions.

The ban would apply to women on the Oregon Health Plan as well as to all female public employees, whose health insurance premiums are largely paid by their employers.

While 106 would not ban abortion, it would make it more difficult for the poorest women in the state. Oregon is a state that gives all women the right to choose or reject elective abortion and voters should not limit that right only to women with the money to find a provider and obtain the procedure on their own.

Oregonians should be wary of any proposal that would put the state on the path to a two-tiered health system, one for the poor and public employees with limits based on political or religious belief, and another, broader one for the rest of us.

They should be particularly concerned about doing so through a constitutional amendment. Medical science changes, and medical care must be able to change with it.

Abortion is legal in this country, and not just for the wealthy or women in the private sector. Voters in Oregon, who’ve agreed with that principle for years, should reject this attempt to change it.

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