Rep. Cathy Tilton was able to get an “intent language” amendment into the operating budget that ends state funding for elective abortions, and removed the $334,000 that pays for such abortions from the operating budget of the Department of Health and Social Services.
Rep. Kelly Merrick spoke first in favor of the amendment. She shared how she was born to a 17-year-old unwed mother who, rather than aborting her, gave her up for adoption. Merrick said she could think of no greater way of honoring her parents, who have since passed, than by supporting Tilton’s amendment.
The exact wording of the amendment is:
“No money appropriated in this appropriation may be expended for an abortion that is not a mandatory service required under AS 47.07.030(a). The money appropriated for Health and Social Services may be expended only for mandatory services required under Title XIX of the Social Security Act and for optional services offered by the state under that step plan for medical assistance that has been approved by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.”
The state paid for abortions for 805 women in 2018.
Rep. Gary Knopp voted in favor of the amendment, but not before declaring, “I believe deeply in a woman’s right to choose.” Both Rep. Andy Josephson and Neal Foster voted against the amendment, which passed 9-2.
Josephson said he questions the constitutionality of the amendment, a sentiment echoed by Rep. Jennifer Johnston, who ended up voting in favor of it.