Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/08/2001 03:02 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 112-ABORTION: INFORMED CONSENT; INFORMATION                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1638                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON announced that the  committee would hear testimony on                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 112, "An  Act relating to information and services                                                               
available  to  pregnant women  and  other  persons; and  ensuring                                                               
informed consent before  an abortion may be  performed, except in                                                               
cases of medical emergency."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  remarked that  this is  one of  the hotly                                                               
debated  items in  [Alaskan] society  right now,  surrounding the                                                               
abortion issue.   He stated that this particular  [bill] does not                                                               
circle around the  debate as far as whether abortion  is or isn't                                                               
[accepted],  but  is to  get  the  best possible  information  to                                                               
somebody who is considering [having an abortion].  He stated:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     It  is  a  decision.     Certainly,  there's  a  choice                                                                    
     involved.   Our  society has  agreed that  there is;  I                                                                    
     disagree  with that  as a  matter of  policy.   But the                                                                    
     fact is  we're there.   So I introduced this  bill just                                                                    
     to say, "Let's go ahead  and get some information about                                                                    
     social services, about what  the gestational period is,                                                                    
     get  some  graphic material  ...  so  that people  have                                                                    
     information to read."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1730                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DANIELLE SERINO, Staff to Representative John Coghill, Alaska                                                                   
State Legislature, came forth to testify on HB 112.  She stated:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
      HB 112 focuses on Alaska's current informed-consent-                                                                      
     before-abortion  provision.    Since 1970,  Alaska  has                                                                    
     recognized  that abortion  is unique  in comparison  to                                                                    
     other types of medical  surgeries and thus necessitated                                                                    
     a   separate  informed-consent   standard.     Alaska's                                                                    
     current  provision substantially  lacks in  content and                                                                    
     also has not been updated since 1973.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     HB  112  seeks  to  elaborate  on  this  provision  and                                                                    
     elevate it  to statute.  It  is not the intent  of this                                                                    
     bill,  in  any form,  to  hamper  or hinder  access  to                                                                    
     abortions  in   this  state,   or  to   insinuate  that                                                                    
     physicians    are   currently    providing   inadequate                                                                    
     information  to their  patients.   Currently in  Alaska                                                                    
     statutes the  only requirements  before an  abortion is                                                                    
     performed  are that  the physician  be licensed  by the                                                                    
     state, that the facility be  approved by the state, and                                                                    
     that  the patient  have been  present for  at least  30                                                                    
     days in the state before the procedure is performed.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     HB 112  would insert  into these statutes  an informed-                                                                    
     consent  provision, along  with  a  higher standard  of                                                                    
     physician  liability,  and  also  ask  that  the  state                                                                    
     develop   an   informational  pamphlet   designed   for                                                                    
     pregnant women  that lists both abortion  and pregnancy                                                                    
     resources and  options that are  available to  women in                                                                    
     making their choice.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     To date,  31 states,  including Alaska, have  some type                                                                    
     of  law   addressing  informed-consent   standards  for                                                                    
     abortion.    Alaska's law  is  unique  or different  in                                                                    
     [the]   fact  that   our  provision   exists  only   in                                                                    
     administrative  regulation and  not  statute.   HB  112                                                                    
     seeks  to  set  a  guideline  in  Alaska  statutes  for                                                                    
     abortion  informed consent  that is  open to  physician                                                                    
     flexibility  in   tailoring  the  information   to  the                                                                    
     individual needs of the patient.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1811                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SERINO summarized:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The intent  of this  bill is to  ensure that  women are                                                                    
     backed  by Alaska  law  in that  they  have the  direct                                                                    
     access they  need to the best  information possible for                                                                    
     their  situation  without  putting a  hamper  on  their                                                                    
     access to the procedure  itself and in protecting their                                                                    
     individual   right   to   privacy   and   circumstances                                                                    
     surrounding that choice.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1919                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GERAN TARR came forth to testify in opposition of HB 112.  She                                                                  
stated:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     I believe the role of  a legislature is to work towards                                                                    
     enactment of public policy that  meets the needs of the                                                                    
     people of the  state.  House Bill 112 does  not do this                                                                    
     and, in fact, makes  a necessary medical procedure more                                                                    
     difficult for  individuals [who], by law,  have a right                                                                    
     to  it.   Unplanned pregnancy  is not  just an  Alaskan                                                                    
     problem, but  a national  problem that has  drastic and                                                                    
     often negative consequences.   As a young  woman in the                                                                    
     prime of my reproductive  years, my reproductive health                                                                    
     is  of primary  concern.   I am  offended by  this bill                                                                    
     that  implies  I do  not  take  this seriously,  as  it                                                                    
     implies that  if pregnant, I  would not  fully research                                                                    
     all of my options before  making a decision.  Whether I                                                                    
     would decide to  have an abortion or to have  a baby, I                                                                    
     fully  understand  the   lifelong  implications  of  my                                                                    
     decision, as do all women, I believe.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     I  wonder if  the sponsor  of this  bill has  spent the                                                                    
     many,  many  hours  discussing the  scary  prospect  of                                                                    
     becoming pregnant  at a young  age when you are  in the                                                                    
     beginnings of planning your future.   I doubt it.  This                                                                    
     is  very much  a woman's  problem, and  we all  know no                                                                    
     contraception  is 100  percent  effective.   I  watched                                                                    
     last year, terrified, as a  similar bill passed through                                                                    
     this same  committee.   Passage of  this bill  will not                                                                    
     stop abortion.  It has always  been a part of our human                                                                    
     culture.    One  should  read   Eve's  Herbs  by  noted                                                                  
     historian John Riddle for more information.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     When I return  to Anchorage, I will become a  part of a                                                                    
     training  program to  become an  advocate for  children                                                                    
     who  are in  the custody  of the  state.   This program                                                                    
     exists because these are children,  1200 of them in the                                                                    
     Anchorage   area  alone,   that  have   no  one   else.                                                                    
     Currently, this  program can only  meet the needs  of a                                                                    
     third of  these children.   This saddens  me.   I don't                                                                    
     believe these  children have the emotional  capacity to                                                                    
     understand  why  no  one  wants  them.    I  have  also                                                                    
     volunteered in  domestic violence shelters  for several                                                                    
     years.   Again,  in this  setting, the  severe problems                                                                    
     that often  follow unplanned pregnancies  and unplanned                                                                    
     families are underscored.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1996                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. TARR stated, in conclusion:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     ... From  looking at  the fiscal note,  I can  see that                                                                    
     the new  requirements have significant  cost associated                                                                    
     with  them, and  I would  ask that  if these  funds are                                                                    
     available from  the general fund, they  be used instead                                                                    
     to   prevent  pregnancy   through   education  and   by                                                                    
     providing contraception  to those  who want it  but may                                                                    
     be financially burdened and unable to obtain it.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2041                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DEATRICH SITCHLER testified via teleconference in opposition to                                                                 
HB 112.  She shared:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     At the  age of  14 I was  diagnosed with  hemophilia, a                                                                    
     disease  affecting the  blood.   As  a  result of  this                                                                    
     condition, it has become medically  dangerous for me to                                                                    
     carry a  pregnancy to term.   The loss of  blood during                                                                    
     the deliver would be potentially fatal  to me.  I am in                                                                    
     a long-term committed relationship,  and my partner and                                                                    
     I are very  careful, but as everyone knows,  no form of                                                                    
     birth  control  is  100  percent  effective.    Were  I                                                                    
     accidentally  to become  pregnant,  it would  be in  my                                                                    
     best  medical  interest   to  terminate  the  pregnancy                                                                    
     rather than  carry the pregnancy  to term.   I strongly                                                                    
     feel that this is a  decision between me and my partner                                                                    
     and  the  advice  and  consult   of  my  doctor.    The                                                                    
     government has  no place  in personal,  painful choices                                                                    
     that I  would have  to make.   Furthermore,  my partner                                                                    
     and I would  find if very painful to have  to listen to                                                                    
     a  litany  of  alternatives to  abortion,  alternatives                                                                    
     that  are not  actually in  my best  interest and  that                                                                    
     could  actually  threaten my  life  before  I would  be                                                                    
     deemed capable of consenting to this abortion.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     My  biggest  objection  is to  the  definition  of  the                                                                    
     medical emergency.  I would  not fall under the medical                                                                    
     necessity  exception  to  HB   112  because  having  an                                                                    
     abortion at  that very moment  would probably not  be a                                                                    
     life-saving   measure   or  an   emergency   situation.                                                                    
     Therefore, I would be subject  to this extra counseling                                                                    
     which  would  be  wholly irrelevant  to  my  individual                                                                    
     circumstances. ...  This termination of  this pregnancy                                                                    
     would be to  save my own life.  Why  should these extra                                                                    
     hurdles be placed before me  that are not placed before                                                                    
     any other patient seeking  any other medical treatment.                                                                    
     I feel that  this is a doctor-patient issue  and that I                                                                    
     should  be able  to  determine, along  with my  doctor,                                                                    
     what is in my best interest.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2122                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
EILEEN   BECKER,  Director,   Homer   Crisis  Pregnancy   Center,                                                               
testified  via teleconference  in favor  of HB  112.   She stated                                                               
that she has had quite a  bit of counseling experience with women                                                               
who have  been "post-aborted".   She said  she knows for  a fact,                                                               
firsthand, that had  these women had the  information included in                                                               
this  bill, they  probably would  have made  a different  choice.                                                               
She remarked that perhaps the  choices they would have made would                                                               
have been a  lot better.  She  stated that she thinks  it is time                                                               
for the  State of  Alaska to  do something that  is good  for the                                                               
women  of Alaska,  good  for  their future,  and  good for  their                                                               
decisions that they are going to make.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2171                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JACKIE BLOOD  testified via  teleconference in  favor or  HB 112.                                                               
She stated that as a woman,  she feels it is essential to provide                                                               
pregnant   women  with   scientific  and   objective  information                                                               
concerning the development of their babies.   She said it is also                                                               
very  important  to provide  clear  and  unbiased information  to                                                               
women  about  the abortion  procedure  and  what an  abortion  is                                                               
actually doing to their babies and  their own bodies.  She stated                                                               
that this  is not like  any other medical procedure  because this                                                               
involves  the   welfare  of  another   life.    She   added  that                                                               
information  concerning adoption  services should  be encouraged.                                                               
She concluded that this type  of information is basic, necessary,                                                               
and really  should not  cause any woman  or health  care provider                                                               
undue duress.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2255                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HUGH FLEISCHER  testified via teleconference in  opposition to HB                                                               
112.  He stated:                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Rather  than  expend  the government's  money  and  the                                                                    
     attorneys' time  and energy, it  would be best  just to                                                                    
     simply  stipulate   that  the  matter  is   subject  to                                                                    
     injunction if you  wish to pass it,  because it doesn't                                                                    
     make any sense.  It's  a ridiculous bill' and it should                                                                    
     be thrown out.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2305                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KAREN  VOSBERGH,  Executive  Director,   Alaska  Right  to  Life,                                                               
testified via  teleconference in support  of HB 112.   She stated                                                               
that anytime  there is information  that would help women  make a                                                               
fully informed decision,  it should go forth.   She remarked that                                                               
when  women  are considering  an  abortion,  very little  factual                                                               
information is given,  and what is given is often  false, such as                                                               
calling [the  fetus] pregnancy  "tissue", "a  bunch of  cells" or                                                               
only a  "blob."  She noted  that these are descriptions  that are                                                               
given at  the stage  of development when  the baby  already feels                                                               
pain, sucks its thumb, and has a heartbeat.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. VOSBERGH stated that unfortunately,  the abortion industry or                                                               
the  general   press  is  not   doing  anything  to   warn  women                                                               
considering  abortion about  its high  rate of  risks.   She said                                                               
that  several  states  have, however,  implemented  right-to-know                                                               
laws, and  she thinks Alaska  should follow suit.   She mentioned                                                               
that there  are over 100 potential  complications associated with                                                               
abortion,  and noted  that Great  Britain revealed  a 27  percent                                                               
infection rate among  women who had aborted, of  whom 9.5 percent                                                               
hemorrhaged enough  to require a  blood transfusion.   She stated                                                               
that long-term  complications usually  result from damage  to the                                                               
reproductive system, causing chronic  infection, the inability to                                                               
carry a subsequent pregnancy to term, or even sterility.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-24, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2350                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. VOSBERGH  remarked that according  to one Japanese  study, 14                                                               
percent  of women  undergoing  abortion  suffered from  recurring                                                               
miscarriages  and there  was a  400 percent  increase in  ectopic                                                               
pregnancies.    She stated  that  Swedish  and Norwegian  studies                                                               
indicate  a   total  of  about  5   percent  sterility  following                                                               
abortions.   She  stated that  if  1.3 million  women are  having                                                               
abortions  in this  nation and  5 percent  are rendered  sterile,                                                               
that's  over 50,000  women.   She stressed  that [women]  need to                                                               
know what  could happen to  them if they  have an abortion.   She                                                               
mentioned that there  was a study by  California researchers that                                                               
found the risk  of breast cancer doubled among  women who aborted                                                               
their first pregnancy.  Another  study done by Janet Daling, M.D.                                                               
of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer  Research Center in Seattle, showed                                                               
a 50-90 percent increase in breast  cancer risk for women who had                                                               
their abortions before the age of 18.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. VOSBERGH continued, stating that  researchers at the New York                                                               
State Department of  Health used computer records  to track every                                                               
case of breast  cancer [in women] under the age  of 40 outside of                                                               
New  York City.   Short-term  pregnancies before  the first  live                                                               
birth correlated with a 90  percent higher risk of breast cancer.                                                               
She added that right now  there are studies underway to determine                                                               
if there  is a link  between abortion  and the high  instances of                                                               
cervical cancer  among women who  have aborted.  She  stated that                                                               
according  to  a paper  to  be  published  shortly by  the  Royal                                                               
Statistical  Society, the  number  of cases  of malignant  breast                                                               
cancer diagnosed each year will,  by 2030, have risen from 30,000                                                               
to  more than  50,000.   She added  that Patrick  Carol (ph),  an                                                               
actuary who wrote  the report, said there is a  lot of cancer "in                                                               
the pipeline."   The breast cancer-abortion  association shows at                                                               
least a  50 percent increase, and  up to a 150  percent increase,                                                               
depending on the [woman's] age at the time of the abortion.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.VOSBERGH continued, stating according  to one study, women who                                                               
have had abortions are nine  times more likely to attempt suicide                                                               
than  are women  who have  not had  abortions.   When a  woman is                                                               
considering    this   "life-changing"    decision,   she    needs                                                               
information.  She stated:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     I  do  not  understand  why  the  "pro-aborts"  are  so                                                                    
     against having women know everything  there is to know.                                                                    
     ...  They  need to  know  what  that baby's  like  that                                                                    
     they're  carrying inside;  they need  to see  what that                                                                    
     baby is.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2731                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
AMY BOLLENBACH  testified via teleconference in  opposition to HB                                                               
112.   She stated that she  appreciates that HB 112  was improved                                                               
from the  last year's  version in  objectivity and  legality, but                                                               
she is still  opposed to the bill because the  purpose appears to                                                               
slow down and reduce the opportunity  to obtain an abortion.  She                                                               
remarked  that  she  personally  would have  no  objection  to  a                                                               
pamphlet prepared by  the Department of Health  & Social Services                                                               
that would give information, if it were truly objective.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. BOLLENBACH remarked that the worst  part of HB 112 is Section                                                               
4,  lines 20-28,  describing medical  emergencies.   She remarked                                                               
that "medical emergency" is defined in  such a narrow way that it                                                               
would  frighten  doctors  away from  performing  abortions  under                                                               
medical emergencies and would endanger  women's lives.  She added                                                               
that  she  has had  experience  teaching  at Anchorage  Community                                                               
College in  women's studies and  other areas; she  counseled many                                                               
young women there, and she is  aware that some women who have had                                                               
abortions  are  psychologically  upset,   some  who  didn't  have                                                               
abortions are  psychologically upset, and some  are very relieved                                                               
after they  have had  abortions.   She stressed  that it  is very                                                               
hard to get objectivity in this field.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2131                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  RUDINGER, Executive  Director,  Alaska Civil  Liberties                                                               
Union,  testified via  teleconference  in opposition  to HB  112.                                                               
She stated that she agrees  with Amy Bollenbach that this version                                                               
is better than the version  that was "floating" around last year;                                                               
however, it still poses hurdles  and obstacles that are placed in                                                               
the paths of  women seeking abortions that are not  placed in the                                                               
paths  of women  who  want  prenatal care  or  any other  medical                                                               
treatment.   She stated  that there are  several points  where HB                                                               
112 is  either overbroad or false.   First of all,  she said, the                                                               
mandatory extra counseling, referred to  in the bill, goes beyond                                                               
what doctors might consider to be  relevant to that patient.  She                                                               
expressed  that this  is a  relationship between  a doctor  and a                                                               
patient,  and there  is  nobody  better able  to  decide what  is                                                               
relevant  to  the  patient's circumstance  than  someone  who  is                                                               
trained  in medical  sciences.   She  added  that the  government                                                               
should not superimpose its judgment.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.   RUDINGER  stated   that  the   bill   refers  to   possible                                                               
psychological effects  that have  been associated with  having an                                                               
abortion, but there  is no medical evidence  that abortion causes                                                               
psychological   injury.     She   stated   that  requiring   this                                                               
information is  wrong, false, misleading,  and certainly,  at the                                                               
very least, subject to debate.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. RUDINGER, referring to the  pamphlet, said that every patient                                                               
is different  and what's  in the pamphlet  might not  actually be                                                               
what's happening  to that woman.   It's up to the  doctor to talk                                                               
to [the woman] about what's  happening, her choices, and what she                                                               
wants to do.  She  summarized that requiring that physicians give                                                               
these lectures to  a woman - as opposed to  having a nurse, nurse                                                               
practitioner,  or  physician's  assistant   do  it  -  makes  the                                                               
delivery of this health care more expensive and more difficult.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1974                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KAREN PEARSON,  Director, Division  of Public  Health, Department                                                               
of Health  & Social Services,  came forth  to testify on  HB 112.                                                               
She stated:                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     The Division  of Public Health  supports what  seems to                                                                    
     be the  intent of  HB 112, which  is ensuring  that all                                                                    
     women seeking  an abortion are fully  informed prior to                                                                    
     signing consent  for the procedure  to be done.   Since                                                                    
     this  is  currently  required  prior  to  any  surgical                                                                    
     procedure being performed,  and is considered essential                                                                    
     by  the medical  provider  community,  we question  the                                                                    
     need for a  law specific to the abortion  procedure.  I                                                                    
     believe we are in agreement  that each woman seeking an                                                                    
     abortion   needs   information  about   the   physical,                                                                    
     emotional,   psychological,  and   medical  risks   and                                                                    
     benefits of both pregnancy and abortion.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. PEARSON  remarked that  this bill seeks  to address  the need                                                               
from the  abortion perspective  by requiring  that each  woman be                                                               
provided  a  detailed  and lengthy  informational  document,  and                                                               
requiring that the physician sign  a form indicating that she has                                                               
read the document, understands it,  and understands its relevance                                                               
to her.  She continued:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Some women  would find  such material  informative, but                                                                    
     many  women  are  low  literacy,  illiterate,  or  have                                                                    
     English as a  second language; they will  not be served                                                                    
     well  by  this  process.   Many  individuals  who  have                                                                    
     reading problems  are very skilled at  hiding them from                                                                    
     those of  us that  have better skills;  thus it  can be                                                                    
     very difficult  for a physician to  ascertain, with any                                                                    
     degree  of  certainty,  that  a   woman  who  has  been                                                                    
     provided the written materials really  was able to read                                                                    
     and comprehend  the information that's so  important to                                                                    
     her.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1904                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. PEARSON continued, stating:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Providers  are  accustomed  to  explaining  procedures,                                                                    
     risks,  and benefits  relative  to medication  options,                                                                    
     treatment options of  all kinds, and are  being able to                                                                    
     follow  up on  questions  and concerns  as they  arise.                                                                    
     They  are used  to tailoring  the information  given to                                                                    
     meet the specific  needs of the patient  being seen and                                                                    
     there  are  many  individual  health  issues  that  [a]                                                                    
     physician  must address  with each  patient, no  matter                                                                    
     the procedure  to be  performed.   These needs  are not                                                                    
     well  served when  large  volumes  of written  material                                                                    
     that  may or  may not  be relevant  to that  particular                                                                    
     individual are  required first in  order to  verify the                                                                    
     person  is informed.   The  language, the  culture, the                                                                    
     age, and  numerous other relevant factors,  specific to                                                                    
     each woman, must be considered  when we're deciding how                                                                    
     to  provide information  in the  most  usable form  and                                                                    
     manner.    And  only  the  provider  and  the  patient,                                                                    
     together,  can   figure  out  what   communication  and                                                                    
     information  needs  to  take  place  so  that  a  truly                                                                    
     informed decision can be made.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. PEARSON stated, in conclusion:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     The substantial  costs reflected in the  fiscal note to                                                                    
     compiling the information are  significant, and I would                                                                    
     offer the  resources of the  division to work  with you                                                                    
     to provide information for informed  consent, but it is                                                                    
     not our belief  that this is the best use  of the funds                                                                    
     to produce information.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1805                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PETER  NAKAMURA, M.D.,  came  forth to  testify on  HB  112.   He                                                               
stated that  his comments are  based on  40 years of  practice in                                                               
health, both  as a physician  and as a public  health specialist.                                                               
He remarked  that there are  a certain number of  principles used                                                               
when making decisions,  such as honesty or the  cost of services.                                                               
He  remarked that  he  would like  to  address two  [principles]:                                                               
prevention and  the influence of  individual beliefs  - including                                                               
cultures and religions  - as they impact on the  issue of health.                                                               
He  stated that  it is  not beneficial  to interfere  with issues                                                               
that  would  prevent  the negative  consequences  that  do,  very                                                               
often, come with unintended pregnancies.   He stressed that it is                                                               
necessary  to  not  present  barriers  that get  in  the  way  of                                                               
unintended  pregnancies.    The  alternative  is  to  wait  until                                                               
[unintended pregnancies]  happen and  end in treatment,  which is                                                               
not as effective as prevention.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR. NAKAMURA mentioned  that he read an article that  said the UN                                                               
(United Nations) is going to take  on a special charge to address                                                               
the first  marriage of  children in some  countries, many  in the                                                               
Middle East.  Many of these  cultures allow kids to be married at                                                               
the age  of 12.   He stated that the  issue, then, is  whether to                                                               
respect that  culture and allow  that practice to continue  or to                                                               
look at  the negative outcomes  and say, "Hey, [we'd]  better try                                                               
to stop that."   This is an  issue the UN has decided  to step in                                                               
on and  say it  is more  important to  address the  health issues                                                               
than  the special  cultural issues.   He  concluded by  stressing                                                               
that it is important to address  the issues of prevention as well                                                               
as the potential negative impact  of special cultural or personal                                                               
beliefs.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1580                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RENEE  GAYHART  testified through  a  written  statement read  by                                                               
Jenny Persell (ph).  Ms. Persell stated:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     House  Bill   112  would   require  that   health  care                                                                    
     professionals  give   information  to  women   who  are                                                                    
     seeking  an abortion  in an  attempt to  prey on  their                                                                    
     emotions and  frighten them so  that they won't  get an                                                                    
     abortion.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     This bill  would require a health  care professional to                                                                    
     show a  woman pictures of  fetuses and to  describe the                                                                    
     anatomical  and  physiological   characteristics  of  a                                                                    
     fetus.   This is a  tactic well known  to anti-abortion                                                                    
     extremists  who ignore  issues of  fetal viability  and                                                                    
     try  to  play on  the  emotions  of pregnant  women  by                                                                    
     confronting  them with  pictures.    The bill  requires                                                                    
     that women be told  about adverse psychological effects                                                                    
     of  having  an abortion,  yet  what  about the  adverse                                                                    
     psychological  effects of  sitting through  this biased                                                                    
     counseling  for a  woman who  has  been raped  or is  a                                                                    
     victim  of incest?   Incidentally,  there are  studies,                                                                    
     one done  by the World Health  Organization, that could                                                                    
     find   no  medical   evidence   that  abortion   causes                                                                    
     psychological injury.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Leave the details of informed  consent up to the people                                                                    
     that  understand  the  health risks  of  pregnancy  and                                                                    
     abortion.   Abortion  is being  singled  out for  these                                                                    
     counseling  requirements because  the sponsors  want to                                                                    
     outlaw abortion.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The  harm from  the restrictions  the sponsors  of this                                                                    
     bill wish  to impose  are felt most  by those  who have                                                                    
     the fewest resources:   low-income women, minors, rural                                                                    
     women, working  women without insurance or  sick leave,                                                                    
     and battered women.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Many  in this  legislature talk  a great  deal of  less                                                                    
     governmental intrusion,  and this would be  a good time                                                                    
     to practice  what you preach.   Leave these  matters up                                                                    
     to women and their doctors.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1553                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
AMBER  CEFFALIO,  Juneau  Pro-Choice  Coalition,  came  forth  to                                                               
testify in opposition  to HB 112, which she  thinks would require                                                               
women  to   go  through  biased  counseling   before  getting  an                                                               
abortion.  She stated:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     I certainly favor  health professionals giving patients                                                                    
     informed   consent   before   undertaking   a   medical                                                                    
     procedure.   To  my knowledge,  there is  no reason  to                                                                    
     think that  women seeking abortions  are not  given all                                                                    
     the information they need to make a reasoned decision.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Legislatures should  not be in the  business of telling                                                                    
     medical professionals  what is and is  not important to                                                                    
     advise a  patient.  Legislatures should  not single out                                                                    
     abortion   for  [the]   biased-counseling  requirement.                                                                    
     Legislatures  should be  more  concerned about  women's                                                                    
     health and  not trying to  coerce them into  carrying a                                                                    
     pregnancy to term by whatever possible means.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Mandatory   anti-choice  lectures   don't  give   women                                                                    
     unbiased,  meaningful  medical  information.    Rather,                                                                    
     they  are told  a  laundry list  of  possible and  rare                                                                    
     complications that may occur from having an abortion.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[HB 112 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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