Legislature proposes bill to criminalize abortion in Alaska

Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi have recently passed laws that make abortion procedures illegal after six weeks of pregnancy.

Alaska’s House Bill 178 is a new proposed bill that would make abortion a felony punishable with prison time. The definition of a child aborted would be from the time of conception.

Graphic by Christina Swayney.

The bill was proposed on May 19 by Representatives Bill Eastman, a Republican from Wasilla and Sharon Jackson, a Republican from Eagle River.

Sonja Barnard-Gravel, president of Generation Action, a UAA club that also partners with Planned Parenthood, expressed the importance of being aware of bills that limit abortion rights.

“Any time legislation is proposed for the purpose of taking away rights from a specific community, it’s important to be diligent of the effects it will have. HB 178 is primarily a strict ban on abortion that takes away the right to privacy for pregnant people. Some people don’t realize it, but this extreme law doesn’t even offer exceptions for survivors of rape and incest,” Barnard-Gravel said.

A poll by Pew Research Center shows 63% of Alaskans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. It was conducted in 2014 and all 50 states were polled. The poll was a religious landscape poll, a study of what the religious beliefs are in different states, and included whether or not the poller was for or against abortion. It also consisted of other yes or no questions such as belief in hell, divorce and homosexuality.

Barnard-Gravel is considered about the effects of the bill if passed.

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“It’s important to consider what we would be asking our doctors to do. They have taken an oath to do no harm and to always provide the best patient care possible, a ban or even a gag on abortions prevents them from taking care of their patients,” Barnard-Gravel said.

Pat Martin, the outreach director for Alaska Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization based in Anchorage, noted that several states, such as Arizona, Utah and a few southern states, restricted or banned abortion.

“Most folks don’t understand that 38 states have restricted or banned abortions. These laws are representations of the people of these states,” Martin said.

Martin doesn’t support abortion because of his stance on the debated issue of when a person becomes an individual person.

“We need to eliminate the distinction between a born person and a not yet born person. Killing a born person would be murder. Life begins at conception. Seeking out abortion is recruiting for a killer. Murder should be punishable by law,” Martin said.

HB 178 will not be on the Alaska State Legislature’s agenda until it reconvenes in January of 2020.