HB 178 IS ALASKA’S ‘LIFE AT CONCEPTION’ BILL OF THE YEAR
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, the most restrictive set of abortion laws in the nation. The bill makes it a felony for a physician to perform an abortion in Alabama unless the mother’s life is at risk.
Across the nation, a dozen states are debating their own versions of the “heartbeat” legislation, similar to the one signed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this month, banning abortions after a heartbeat is detectable in the fetus. That’s about six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.
Heartbeat bills have been passed in Ohio and Mississippi, and one is on the verge of passing in Louisiana.
Other states, such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and South Carolina have dozens of bills in play or already passed that would greatly restrict abortions. The Michigan Senate, for example, passed legislation prohibiting “dismemberment abortions” after the second trimester.
On the last day of the Alaska 2019 legislative session, Rep. David Eastman and Rep. Sharon Jackson offered a “Life at Conception” bill in Alaska. HB 178.
HB 178 is nearly identical to HB 250, offered in 2017 and it is the only anti-abortion legislation to have been offered this year. HB 250 had been referred to four committees in 2017 and never even got a hearing under the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. HB 178 has been referred to three committees, and will likely see a similar fate, as the House is still under the control of Democrats.
However, this year the Alaska’s House and Senate have passed an operating budget that expressly prohibits state Medicaid funds from paying for elective abortions.
Democrats in office, all of whom support a woman’s right to terminate the life of the child in her womb, didn’t put up a fight. Rep. Daniel Ortiz of Ketchikan said in Finance Committee that it would harm low-income women. Rep. Andy Josephson said it would be found unconstitutional.
But Rep. Cathy Tilton, who offered the measure, said that the $334,000 that the state has paid annually for non-medically necessary abortions needs to be gone from the budget. And surprisingly, she got her way. Democrats are counting on it being deemed unconstitutional in court, so chose not to fight it in the court of public opinion.
It’s not the first time state lawmakers have tried to legislative against abortion, but the courts have always sided with Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women.
In February, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld a ruling stopping the State from enforcing two regulations limiting the public funding of abortions, a lawsuit that was brought by Planned Parenthood based on the equal protection clause of the Alaska Constitution.
Last year, Sen. Cathy Giessel offered SB 124, which would have mandated that medical professionals provide lifesaving aid to a baby who survives an abortion. In other words, if you didn’t kill the baby on the first attempt, you have to take reasonable steps to help it live.
That bill never made it past Senate Finance Committee before the session ended and the bill was effectively dead. Giessel then took heavy fire from the very-absolutist Alaska Right to Life organization for not going far enough with the legislation. They savaged her for even trying to save a baby or two from the knife. It’s an all-or-nothing group.
The rush of laws being proposed across the country to reduce or eliminate abortions are lawsuit bait because the majority of Americans are still uncomfortable about unrestricted abortion and because those wanting to limit abortion know the U.S. Supreme Court is slightly more conservative than is has been in recent years.
According to a poll conducted for The Hill news site, more than half of registered voters believe that laws banning abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy are “not too restrictive.”
The May 10-11 poll found that 21 percent of registered voters said that such abortion bans are “too lenient” while 34 percent said they believe they are “just right.”
Forty-five percent of respondents said they believe such laws are “too restrictive.”