Two bills passed unanimously during Oregon’s 2017 legislative session that will help significantly to raise awareness for and accommodate disabled citizens. Both were sponsored by State Representative Cedric Hayden.
The first bill, House Bill 2591, moved to designate May as the awareness month for Williams Syndrome, which is a rare genetic condition present at birth that is characterized by numerous medical problems, particularly cardiovascular issues, learning disabilities, and developmental delays.
Representative Hayden, who is currently raising his six-year-old daughter with Williams Syndrome, was motivated to introduce the bill because of his personal experience with the disability. He stated that he hoped appointing May as Williams Syndrome Awareness Month would promote medical and fundraiser awareness for the genetic disorder. The other benefit to the bill he noted is that it could help parents identify the disorder in their children earlier and take the appropriate steps for helping their children deal with this disorder.
The other bill, House Bill 3029, allows for parents or legal guardians to postpone for one year the enrollment of their child in public school if the child’s sixth birthday occurs on or before September 1st. Hayden’s daughter, who is delayed around 24-36 months physically and cognitively like many other disabled children, was forced to go to public school at the age of six. The school held her back in kindergarten another year as a result, which Hayden says naturally caused emotional stress for her and the family.
Many parents with children who have cognitive disabilities (Autism, Down Syndrome, etc) have run into similar problems as Hayden. House Bill 3029 addresses exactly that issue by allowing the parents to delay a child’s education to better accommodate his or her cognitive ability. The decision is purely up to the parents without interference from the school board.
Oregon State Representative Bill Post has introduced legislation in the Oregon Legislature which would expand options for women who do not wish to terminate their pregnancies via an abortion.
House Bill 2125 creates a funding source for organizations which “encourage or assist pregnant women in carrying their pregnancies to term.” These organizations would offer information for women on caring for themselves and newborns, fetal development, adequate nutrition, and more. Post believes his proposal would especially benefit low-income women, who may be disproportionately affected by abortions.
Organizations which promote or perform abortions may not receive funding under the bill—in fact, Post’s legislation prohibits the Oregon Health Authority from reimbursing any abortions unless they are performed in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergencies.
If House Bill 2125 passes in the Oregon Legislature, it must still receive a majority of the popular vote in Oregon’s next general election before it can become a law. By contrast, House Bill 2232, which increases funding for abortions, does not propose a statewide referendum.
“Why not let Oregon voters decide where they want their tax dollars spent?” Post asks.
Close to 2,000 conservative Oregonians gathered at Portland’s Oregon Convention Center on Saturday to support fiscal responsibility, family values, and religious liberty.
The 2017 Freedom Rally, sponsored by Oregon Liberty Alliance and its participating members, featured speeches from notable conservative figures such as Virginia Congressman Scott Taylor, best-selling author Star Parker, and Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee delivered the keynote address.
All four speakers affirmed their support for the pro-life cause. “I am a politician because I’m pro-life,” Huckabee said.
Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson addresses rally attendees at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland
Attendees enjoyed a luncheon and perused displays highlighting conservative organizations in Oregon. Oregon Right to Life hosted a booth which educated voters about anti-life legislation such as SB 494 and HB 2232.
To-date, Oregon Liberty Alliance has sponsored four annual rallies, and each event has attracted ever-larger crowds. Attendance increased from roughly 700 people at the 2014 Freedom Rally to nearly 2,000 at this year’s gathering. Organizers hope that the rallies will generate support for conservative candidates in Oregon elections.
Angelique Clark, a junior high school student from Las Vegas,Nevada, had to decide what to do when her school, West Career and Technical Academy, denied her application to start a Pro-Life club. Determined to fight for her rights, Clark sought the help of law firm Thomas More Society, a firm known for helping out in cases like this. The firm sent a demand letter to the school.
When the school board made no answer whatsoever, Clark and the law firm filed a discrimination lawsuit against the school.
“When I first applied to form a pro-life club, I never imagined I would have to sue my school to be able to exercise my free speech rights,” Clark says.
According to a Fox and Friends interview on Fox News, the school claims that the club would be too controversial, and that Angelique doesn’t have a faculty advisor supervising the club. Angelique points that she in fact has had an advisor backing her up since December of 2014, and that considering the school’s inclusion of other Bible clubs, Gay/Straight Alliance clubs, etc., she shouldn’t be discriminated against.
Angelique states that she is a passionate pro-life advocate, has “studied a lot about abortion, and I know the real facts behind it, and I really wanted to educate people about what it really does to women and pre-born human beings. It’s not just a choice. It’s something that affects a lot of people in a very negative way.”
But local governments wouldn’t allow dentist (and now State Representative) Cedric Hayden to open full service dental clinics offering free services to the poor of Oregon’s economically depressed areas.
Says Hayden, “you have to ask yourself, why would free health care services be rejected? Was there not a need?”
Of course, there is a need, and Hayden has the tools to help. He and his wife Julie founded Caring Hands Worldwide in 2006, a non-profit that sets up mobile dental clinics and brings in dentists and dental hygienists to serve those in need of dental healthcare in Oregon and around the world.
But despite the great need and his desire to help, Hayden was unable to get permission to move forward.
“In one case we had even purchased land for the clinic—property that still sits empty in an economically depressed logging town.”
Thus began Hayden’s bid for serving in the State Legislature. After a decisive victory in the 2014 election, Hayden set to work pushing legislation that would prohibit local governments from preventing free medical clinics from locating to private property.
This effort finally paid off in late May with the passage of House Bill 3139 by the House and Senate and with the signature of the Governor.
At the bill signing ceremony, Hayden’s son Wessen turned to him and said to great laughs, “Daddy, you made a law!”
Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun, testified in the trial of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and asked that he be spared the death penalty.
Prejean, famous for counseling inmates on death row, spoke with Tsarnaev and claimed he showed remorse for the suffering he caused the victims of the bombings.
Sister Helen Prejean
“I had every reason to think he was taking it in and was genuinely sorry for what he did,” Prejean testified, according to CNN.
“He said emphatically, ‘No one deserves to suffer like they did,’” she said, according to the New York Times.
Prejean is known as an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, writing a bestselling book on the subject called “Dead Man Walking.” She met with Tsarnaev five times over the past year at the request of Tsarnaev’s defense lawyers, according to Yahoo News.
Prejean’s testimony came in light of the battle over Tsarnaev’s sentencing. Found guilty on 30 counts, including setting off weapons of mass destruction, it is to be decided whether or not he will receive the death penalty.
If Tsarnaev is spared the death penalty, he will spend his sentence at a supermax penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. There he would serve 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.