Out of the presidency for two years, in early 1911, Theodore Roosevelt reflected on his long career in public service. Essential to any representative of the people, he wrote in The Outlook magazine, was to “never put holding his office above keeping straight with his conscience.” Instead, “he should be prepared to go out of office rather than surrender on a matter of vital principle.”
Were Teddy alive today, he no doubt would honor Republican members of the Oregon State Senate who are refusing to return to their chamber until their far-Left Democratic colleagues drop a measure that would “require Medicaid and private insurers to cover more procedures under the umbrella of gender-affirming care, and would allow minors of any age to get an abortion without needing to notify a parent.” With respect to abortion, even advocates of the legislation admit it would permit a girl as young as 10 to obtain an abortion without her parents’ knowledge.
The bill, HB 2002-B, “would create a pilot project to deploy two mobile health clinics to provide abortion, gender-affirming care, and other reproductive health services in rural areas.” Not content with requiring public funding for these things, it also mandates “student health centers to provide enrolled students with access to emergency contraception and medication abortion.”
To make sure they understand the stakes involved, State Senator Kim Thatcher (R), one of the 13, wrote her constituents that of the 46 pages of HB 2002-B, the first 10 are devoted to abortion. Thatcher, the mother of four, wrote that “With this bill, a child of any age must provide written permission for a parent to know what reproductive health services are provided by a health care provider. Imagine, as a parent, you need written authorization from your child, the person you care for, to know they are about to make a life-altering decision by having an abortion.”
Thatcher also noted that the measure allows for a child to “secretly [decide] to alter [the] natural functions and processes of his/her body” by using “irreversible drugs or surgeries to satisfy his/her gender identity based on immature beliefs planted into their impressionable minds.”
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When the bill came up in the State House of Representatives earlier this month, Rep. Christine Goodwin (R) noted that outside of radical Portland and a couple of other larger cities, “Oregonians do not want more of their taxpayer dollars going to something they fundamentally disagree with. Ask them how they feel about a mobile abortion truck parked in their neighborhoods.”
These arguments found no resonance in the State House’s Democratic majority; HB 2002-B passed a couple of weeks ago, 36-23. So, in the State Senate, 12 Republicans and one independent — now calling themselves “Oregon’s 13” — have since early May boycotted the State Senate. Ten of them are, under Oregon law, ineligible for reelection for having ten unexcused absences from the Senate floor.
Predictably, critics of the dissenting Senators accuse them of corroding “democracy.” Senate President Rob Wagner (D) says, “This walkout must end. The people of Oregon desire it. Democracy demands it.”
Actually, no, democracy makes no such demand. Representative self-government entails the election of persons who will act in the best interest of their constituents and of all affected by their political actions. This is precisely what Oregon’s 13 are doing.
Oregon’s 13 understand the political cost they are facing. Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp (R) noted that he and his colleagues understood the potential cost of their actions: “We were willing to take the risk that we wouldn’t be able to run again.” And GOP State Senator Daniel Bonham (R) put it simply: “I’m more than happy to lose my job if I can stop [HB 2002] from happening.”
Although Knopp and his colleagues plan to challenge the Oregon statute that would keep them from running to retain their seats, there is no guarantee they will succeed.
It was a Democrat, our late President John F. Kennedy, who summoned all Americans to remember that integrity was it’s own greatest blessing. “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking [God’s] blessing and His help.”
Whatever the outcome of the current standoff in Oregon, the moral courage being displayed by the men and women composing Oregon’s 13 assures them of consciences unstained by compromise with evil. These men and women would have made one of their great Republican forebears, Theodore Roosevelt, immensely proud.
LifeNews Note: Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University’s Honors College. This column originally appeared at The Washington Stand.
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