A woman alleges that Oregon Republican congressional candidate Mike Erickson paid for her abortion in 2001. However, the multimillionaire businessman refuses to admit it, saying only that he gave her $300 and drove her to a “doctor’s office” in Portland, Oregon. He maintains that he had no idea what kind of medical appointment it was.
The story first broke in 2008 during an earlier failed campaign by Erickson, who has run on anti-abortion platform for years. Now, the shipping executive maintains that he was not close with the woman at the center of the story and never asked her to get an abortion.
Last month, the Oregonian editorial board met with Erickson and his opponent, Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas, to decide whom to endorse for the state’s newly created 6th Congressional District. During the interview, editorial board members questioned him about paying for the abortion, along with questions about his past driving-while-drunk charge.
“I dropped her off at a medical clinic by Lloyd Center and she didn’t say she was going to get an abortion,” Erickson replied. “I helped her out because the girl I was dating—you said girlfriend—this girl I was dating, and she was living with her boyfriend. We covered all that in the past. They had a child together. I think they were breaking up or something and wanted some help. I helped this person out. Period. I feel bad for what’s happened to her in the situation on the TV and in the press. But what my opponents put on TV is not what you guys, the Oregonian, reported. You put in there, you interviewed her: ‘Mike never asked me or encouraged me.’”
In 2008, the newspaper published a front-page story about the woman’s experience. The woman, who only went by Tawnya, said she met Erickson at an Oktoberfest event in September 2000. At the time, she was a single mother with a 3-year-old who made $13.77 an hour. Erickson introduced himself by giving her his card with his “president” title of a shipping advisory company.
She says they dated for a few months, though Erickson was emphatic in the September 2022 interview that they were not a couple. He was just helping out a “girl I was dating.”
Tawnya—then 26 to Erickson’s 37—said in the 2008 interview that she was sobbing so much going into the clinic that “I couldn’t speak.” She recalled that Erickson “looked like he cared.”
“I asked him, ‘Are you sure you don’t want a baby?’” she said. “He shook his head. I opened the door, got out bawling and crossed the street and walked up to the clinic.”
Erickson, 45, said he dated Tawnya “for a couple of months.” He told The Oregonian he didn’t remember many details about their relationship, including where they met or when they dated. He said she betrayed no emotion during the car ride.
“Did I pay for an abortion? Absolutely not,” Erickson said.
“She was having some financial troubles,” he said. “She asked for some money to go have a doctor’s appointment — not knowing what that was — and whatever happened, happened, I guess. I didn’t even know she had an abortion.”
Jezebel sent a list of questions to Erickson’s campaign on Monday night, and the campaign has not responded. Jezebel also reached out to the woman but is not naming her, as she is not a public figure.
Erickson has said Oregon’s abortion law, one of the strongest in the nation, should “be looked at” for possible changes—even though he told the Oregonian that he’s a “states’ rights advocate.” During this campaign, Erickson submitted answers to a voter guide compiled by the American Family Association Action, a group that wants America to embrace its “biblical foundations.”
Erickson’s own alleged abortion experience has remained out of national news, despite the closeness of the race. The Cook Political Report rated the new district as only “lean Democrat.” National Journal Hotline polling found a slight edge for Republicans. (A data analysis estimated that President Biden carried voters in the area by 13 points, had the congressional district existed during the 2020 campaign.)
Decades of history show that the ruling party loses seats in midterm House elections. However, there’s never been an election quite like this one. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, voters have indicated that abortion rights are the primary factor motivating them to vote in November.