SALEM — An initiative to ban state funding of abortions has passed the first hurdle toward a place on the 2016 ballot.

Chief sponsor Jeff Jimerson of Corvallis announced Friday that his group, Oregon Life United, has gathered the 1,000 signatures needed to obtain a ballot title for the initiative.

The group had garnered about 1,500 signatures as of early Friday.

This marks the third time Jimerson has sought to send the initiative to voters. He failed to secure enough signatures in 2012 and 2014.

“Each time we are getting closer and closer,” said Alicia Marks, Oregon Life United spokeswoman. “We really do think we have a strong enough volunteer base this time to get it on the ballot for 2016.

Oregon Life United must obtain 117,578 valid signatures to place the initiative on the ballot.

About 40 percent of the nearly 5,000 abortions performed between January and October were paid for with state funding, according to Oregon Health Authority.

The state paid about $1.8 million for a total of 3,556 abortions in 2013-14, the most recent figures available Friday. Each procedure cost about $500.

Oregon Right to Life supports the initiative but has made no financial commitment to the effort, said spokeswoman Liberty Pike.

The organization has chosen to spend its resources on supporting pro-life candidates in the upcoming election and lobbying lawmakers, Pike said.

“What we have found is the system is set up so that it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a measure on the ballot,” she said. “We have decided to use our resources in areas where we think we can get the best return on our investment.”

A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment on how it plans to respond to the initiative effort.

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.

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