Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/04/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSB 117(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 4, 2005                                                                                          
                           8:37 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French (via teleconference)                                                                                      
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 117                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to the  admissibility into evidence of the prior                                                               
recorded statement of  a crime victim less than 16  years of age;                                                               
and  adding Rule  413,  Alaska Rules  of  Evidence, and  amending                                                               
Rules 402 and 403, Alaska Rules of Evidence."                                                                                   
     MOVED CSSB 117(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
SENATE BILL NO. 20                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to offenses against unborn children."                                                                          
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 117                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: RECORDED STATEMENTS OF CHILD VICTIMS                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) FRENCH                                                                                                   
02/28/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/28/05       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
03/10/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/10/05       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
03/31/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/31/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/31/05       (S)       MINUTE (JUD)                                                                                           
04/04/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 20                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: OFFENSES AGAINST UNBORN CHILDREN                                                                                   
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DYSON                                                                                                    
01/11/05       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 12/30/04                                                                              
01/11/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/11/05       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
03/01/05       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/01/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/01/05       (S)       MINUTE (STA)                                                                                           
03/15/05       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/15/05       (S)       Moved CSSB 20(STA) Out of Committee                                                                    
03/15/05       (S)       MINUTE (STA)                                                                                           
03/16/05       (S)       STA RPT CS 1NR 4AM SAME TITLE                                                                          
03/16/05       (S)       AM: THERRIAULT, ELTON, WAGONER, HUGGINS                                                                
03/16/05       (S)       NR: DAVIS                                                                                              
03/16/05       (S)       FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER JUD                                                                           
03/31/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/31/05       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/04/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Ms. Michele Pettijohn, Social Worker                                                                                            
Office of Children's Services                                                                                                   
Department of Health & Social Services                                                                                          
PO Box 110601                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99801-0601                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 117                                                                           
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SB 20                                                                                         
Mr. Wes Keller                                                                                                                  
Staff to Senator Dyson                                                                                                          
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 20                                                                                       
Ms. Anna Franks                                                                                                                 
Planned Parenthood                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of SB 20                                                                         
Ms. Jasmin Cherian                                                                                                              
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 20                                                                            
Ms. Rebecca Whiteman, Representative                                                                                            
Family Violence Prevention Fund                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of SB 20                                                                         
Ms. Cassandra Johnson                                                                                                           
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of SB 20                                                                         
Ms. Carrie Robinson, Attorney                                                                                                   
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of SB 20                                                                         
Mr. Chip Waggoner, Executive Director                                                                                           
Alaska Catholic Conference                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 20                                                                            
Ms. Anne Carpeneti                                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 20                                                                                       
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 8:37:30 AM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Huggins, Therriault, Guess, and Chair Seekins.                                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SB 117 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
          SB 117-RECORDED STATEMENTS OF CHILD VICTIMS                                                                       
8:38:35 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  moved  Version  \Y  as  the  working  document.                                                               
Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                                      
SENATOR FRENCH informed  the committee he carried SB  117 over in                                                               
order to allow the public an opportunity to testify.                                                                            
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  Senator French to outline the  changes to SB                                                               
SENATOR  FRENCH informed  Page  2 line  9,  subparagraph (H)  was                                                               
changed to read, "the court has  had an opportunity to review the                                                               
recording", which makes  it less burdensome but does  not make it                                                               
mandatory for the court to watch the recording at the time.                                                                     
8:40:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked Senator French  what the  word "available"                                                               
means in terms of the victim in the courtroom.                                                                                  
SENATOR FRENCH responded  the victim would not have  to be inside                                                               
the courtroom but available in the building.                                                                                    
8:42:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MICHELLE  PETTIJOHN,  social worker,  Office  of  Children's                                                               
Services, testified in  support of SB 117. She said  she has been                                                               
trained  to  perform  forensic interviews  at  advocacy  centers.                                                               
Forensic  interviews  should  be   admissible  in  court  because                                                               
children should only have to state their story one time.                                                                        
8:45:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ROSEMARY  HAGEVIG, Catholic  Community Services  testified in                                                               
support of SB 117.                                                                                                              
CHAIR  SEEKINS  moved  SB  117  from  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations  and   accompanying  fiscal  notes.   Hearing  no                                                               
objections, the motion carried.                                                                                                 
             SB 20-OFFENSES AGAINST UNBORN CHILDREN                                                                         
8:47:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRED  DYSON introduced SB  20. He said federal  law gives                                                               
protection  to  unborn children  through  the  Unborn Victims  of                                                               
Violence Act, and SB 20 is a state version of the federal law.                                                                  
8:49:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON  said he has  been very  careful not to  attack the                                                               
current right  of a  woman for  a legal abortion.  No one  can be                                                               
prosecuted for  the death or  injury of  an unborn child  when it                                                               
happens  in  the course  of  medical  treatment.  SB 20  is  also                                                               
careful not to assign personhood to an unborn child.                                                                            
8:51:33 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON  said there are now  children born at 24  weeks who                                                               
survive.  SB  20  is  an   attempt  to  afford  some  measure  of                                                               
protection to an unborn child  as it is developing. He encouraged                                                               
the  board members  to  think  about culpability  as  if it  were                                                               
against a person already born.                                                                                                  
8:54:07 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON added  he believes there are  no unwanted children.                                                               
The Legislature has the ability  to provide protection of the law                                                               
to most entities including game and streams.                                                                                    
8:59:35 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS  asked Senator Dyson to  reconsider on the                                                               
violence  against  pregnant  women  issue.  She  suggested  using                                                               
aggravating sentences. The best thing  to do to protect an unborn                                                               
child is to protect all women against violence.                                                                                 
9:01:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GUESS asked  for the  definition of  death of  an unborn                                                               
child in the concept of  miscarriages. She stated her concern was                                                               
a miscarriage could be prosecuted under the statutes.                                                                           
9:02:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON stated  it  would have  to  be "intentionally  and                                                               
SENATOR  GUESS  stated  "recklessly"  is  also  included  in  the                                                               
MR. WES KELLER, staff to  Senator Dyson, testified the recklessly                                                               
standard is for manslaughter and  criminally negligent applies to                                                               
9:04:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON said it was a very  high standard to prove it was a                                                               
knowingly intentional act.                                                                                                      
9:06:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS  asked the  committee to think  about the  issue. A                                                               
woman who  runs a 10K  race could be  prosecuted. SB 20  opens up                                                               
the   possibility  to   prosecute   any  woman   who  suffers   a                                                               
9:07:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  he has  seen pregnant  women taking  part in                                                               
activities that  some could  call risky  where others  would not.                                                               
The medical community has differing standards.                                                                                  
9:10:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON asked  the committee members to think  of the issue                                                               
as if it were a born child.                                                                                                     
SENATOR HOLLIS  FRENCH stated there was  difficulty analyzing the                                                               
situation when trying to consider an unborn fetus a born child.                                                                 
9:13:44 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH said  the law  currently  provides penalties  for                                                               
someone  who kills  a fetus  through the  definition of  "serious                                                               
physical injury."  Someone who hurts  a woman and  causes serious                                                               
physical injury  can be  prosecuted. He  asked Senator  Dyson how                                                               
manslaughter minimum sentences would be affected.                                                                               
9:15:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON  answered Alaska law  makes clear  distinctions and                                                               
it involves  transferability of intention. When  someone hurts an                                                               
unintended victim, the intention can be transferred.                                                                            
9:17:56 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  said adding a  separate sentence for a  woman who                                                               
is 4 weeks pregnant is problematic.                                                                                             
9:20:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  pondered  whether  a  4-week-old  fetus  deserves                                                               
protection under the law.                                                                                                       
SENATOR GENE  THERRIAULT said the issue  becomes problematic when                                                               
it is an action the woman takes herself.                                                                                        
9:23:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  commented there was  a delicate balance  between a                                                               
woman  choosing  to participate  in  a  physical activity,  which                                                               
could bring  harm to  an unborn  child, and  a woman  choosing to                                                               
ingest a harmful substance.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  GUESS  commented  going  to work  could  be  a  physical                                                               
activity. It  is also  difficult when you  consider a  woman does                                                               
not always know when she is pregnant.                                                                                           
9:25:44 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON asserted  that "knowingly"  is  the qualifier.  He                                                               
stated it  was not the intent  to have people calling  the police                                                               
on  any woman  who  might be  endangering an  unborn  child.   He                                                               
expressed doubt that innocent people would be prosecuted.                                                                       
Chair Seekins announced a brief recess at 9:28:21 AM.                                                                         
Chair Seekins reconvened the meeting at 9:39:10 AM.                                                                           
9:39:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANNA  FRANKS, chief executive officer,  Planned Parenthood of                                                               
Alaska, said Planned  Parenthood of Alaska was  unable to support                                                               
SB 20  as it  is currently written,  although they  would support                                                               
some changes to the  bill. A woman has the right  to have a child                                                               
as well  as the  right to  have a  legal abortion.  Their primary                                                               
concern  is  giving  separate  legal rights  to  the  fetus.  She                                                               
claimed  SB 20  undermines the  national trend  toward a  woman's                                                               
right to choose.                                                                                                                
9:42:07 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. FRANKS voiced  doubt as to the ability to  prove assault on a                                                               
fetus resulted  in a negative  outcome. Her discussions  with the                                                               
Department of Law have led  her to believe sentencing aggravators                                                               
would be a more simpler and useful solution.                                                                                    
9:43:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS stated  he  supports giving  rights  to an  unborn                                                               
9:45:06 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CASSANDRA  JOHNSON,  informed  committee  members  that  she                                                               
worked  with  victims  and  survivors   of  domestic  and  gender                                                               
violence  for  nine years.  Although  she  was pleased  that  the                                                               
Legislature was  addressing this prevalent problem,  she couldn't                                                               
support  the  current  draft  of  SB 20.  She  pointed  out  that                                                               
nationwide  domestic  violence  experts unanimously  oppose  this                                                               
type of bill.                                                                                                                   
She reported  that since the  late 1970s  Alaska has been  in the                                                               
top five states  for reported sexual assaults and  in 2002 Alaska                                                               
led  the nation  in women  killed  by a  significant other.  It's                                                               
necessary  to educate  all society  members to  send the  message                                                               
that  gender violence  won't be  tolerated in  Alaska. Sentencing                                                               
aggravators would recognize a crime  committed against a pregnant                                                               
woman  and give  the courts  flexibility to  consider harm  to or                                                               
loss  of  the  fetus.  Acts  of  violence  against  a  woman  are                                                               
abhorrent and  particularly disturbing  when committed  against a                                                               
pregnant woman.                                                                                                                 
When  a  violent  crime  against  a  pregnant  woman  results  in                                                               
miscarriage  or stillbirth  everyone  shares the  desire for  the                                                               
criminal  justice  system  to respond  decisively  to  exact  the                                                               
appropriate punishment.  Protecting pregnant women  from violence                                                               
is  a very  serious problem  that deserves  to be  elevated above                                                               
political agendas and partisan politics, she concluded.                                                                         
9:48:33 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CARRIE  ROBINSON,  attorney,   Alaska  Network  on  Domestic                                                               
Violence  and  Sexual Assault,  explained  that  the network  has                                                               
programs  statewide  and it  fully  supports  efforts to  prevent                                                               
violent  acts  toward women.  However,  SB  20  has a  number  of                                                               
unintended   consequences  including   preventing  a   victim  of                                                               
domestic violence from seeking necessary medical care.                                                                          
In  Alaska, nearly  one  in four  teenage  mothers have  reported                                                               
physical  abuse  suffered  during pregnancy.  It's  important  to                                                               
remember  that these  are just  the  reported statistics  because                                                               
many acts of domestic violence go unreported.                                                                                   
9:50:10 AM                                                                                                                    
Alaska ranks  in the  top three per  capita nationwide  in sexual                                                               
assault and  in 2002 it ranked  number one for women  murdered by                                                               
men. Furthermore,  the American  Medical Association  Journal has                                                               
reported  that  murder is  the  number  one  cause of  injury  to                                                               
pregnant  women.   Studies  show  that  abuse   escalates  during                                                               
pregnancy and that  pregnancy is the time when a  woman is at the                                                               
greatest risk  of injury.  Because of  that, it's  important that                                                               
the justice  system is able  to react strongly and  decisively to                                                               
such acts.                                                                                                                      
She  asked members  to imaging  their reaction  if it  were their                                                               
daughter who was  happily married when she brought  home the news                                                               
that  she was  pregnant but  after that  time her  husband became                                                               
abusive. Because the couple had  a non-violent relationship prior                                                               
to the  pregnancy, she  mistakenly believes  the abuse  will stop                                                               
once the baby is born.                                                                                                          
If she were to miscarry because  of the abuse to her abdomen, her                                                               
husband would be charged with  murder under SB 20. The unintended                                                               
consequence of this  is that her husband might be  less likely to                                                               
take his wife  in for emergency care and the  woman might also be                                                               
reluctant to seek medical attention  if she knew that her husband                                                               
might be charged with murder or manslaughter.                                                                                   
9:52:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ROBINSON  reported that for  a number  of reasons it  takes a                                                               
woman  approximately  seven  times  to extract  herself  from  an                                                               
abusive relationship. It's well documented  that this is the most                                                               
dangerous time  for her to  leave the relationship.  That coupled                                                               
with the  fact that  she may have  limited financial  and support                                                               
options raises the question of  whether she could be charged with                                                               
failing to protect her unborn fetus under this bill.                                                                            
Looking  at  another  scenario  she  questioned  whether  a  snow                                                               
machine  driver  should  be  charged  with  manslaughter  if  his                                                               
pregnant  wife  miscarries  as  a result  of  the  ride.  Without                                                               
question this  would be  a tragic accident,  but it  becomes much                                                               
more complex if rises to the level of manslaughter.                                                                             
Instead  of  complicating  the  current  criminal  statutes,  she                                                               
suggested  looking   at  making   domestic  violence   crimes  an                                                               
aggravator and keeping  the focus on the women. "Alaska  can be a                                                               
leader for the  nation by acknowledging a batterer  cannot hurt a                                                               
fetus without hurting a woman."                                                                                                 
9:54:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked how long the network had been in existence.                                                                 
MS. ROBINSON  replied they have been  in Alaska for more  than 20                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS  questioned whether she thought  the justice system                                                               
already provides adequate protection to pregnant women.                                                                         
MS. ROBINSON replied she did not.                                                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked why the  network hadn't  brought legislation                                                               
forward for consideration before this time.                                                                                     
MS. ROBINSON explained  that in 1996 the  network fully supported                                                               
the  1996 Domestic  Violence and  Protection Act  and has  always                                                               
striven  for  enhanced  penalties  and stricter  laws  to  punish                                                               
violence  against  women.  It's  unfortunate  that  these  crimes                                                               
frequently are pled out or  become misdemeanor domestic violence.                                                               
Resources  are short  for the  Department of  Law to  be able  to                                                               
handle  existing  caseloads and  so  these  crimes aren't  always                                                               
punished under existing laws as they should be.                                                                                 
CHAIR SEEKINS advised he knows  legislators who would be happy to                                                               
carry individual bills that look at what she is suggesting.                                                                     
MS. ROBINSON  responded the  network would  fully support  a bill                                                               
that made it an aggravator in the criminal statutes.                                                                            
9:56:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS commented  it would  be easy  to get  such a  bill                                                               
going.  There are  aggravators for  all sorts  of things  and the                                                               
network would be advised to take such a project on.                                                                             
MS.  ROBINSON   said  she  understands  there   is  comprehensive                                                               
legislation looking at all sentencing in Alaska.                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said  that bill already passed, but  it didn't deal                                                               
with naming  additional aggravators it's  just how they  would be                                                               
SENATOR  THERRIAULT remarked  several aggravators  were added  to                                                               
the bill  before it  was signed.  He then  asked Ms.  Robinson to                                                               
clarify how a woman might be  charged if she didn't take steps to                                                               
protect herself  and her unborn  child from an  abusive situation                                                               
because the harm wouldn't be self inflicted.                                                                                    
MS.  ROBINSON  responded with  the  hypothetical  situation of  a                                                               
physician  who  advised a  woman  to  leave a  domestic  violence                                                               
relationship because  of the potential  for injury to  herself or                                                               
the unborn  fetus. If  the woman wasn't  able to  extract herself                                                               
before another  assault happened she understands  the legislation                                                               
to have the reckless element.  That is to have reckless disregard                                                               
of  a known  risk.  Therefore  she would  argue  that under  that                                                               
definition,  she could  be charged  with failing  to protect  the                                                               
9:58:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT opined that is a bit of a stretch.                                                                           
MS. ROBINSON  argued it  isn't a stretch  when you  consider that                                                               
other states  have passed child  protective legislation  in which                                                               
mothers  have lost  custody because  they  didn't get  out of  an                                                               
abusive situation.                                                                                                              
SENATOR  THERRIAULT disagreed,  but if  she could  point out  how                                                               
that would  realistically happen  then the committee  should look                                                               
at ways to prevent that misapplication of the law.                                                                              
9:59:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed with Senator Therriault.                                                                                   
SENATOR  GUESS said  that's where  she would  agree to  disagree.                                                               
Referencing page  2, lines 16-23  she said that according  to her                                                               
reading of  "reckless" and "negligent" in  the criminal statutes,                                                               
Ms.  Robinson's  interpretation  is correct.  Certainly  a  woman                                                               
would  be told  she should  have gotten  out of  the relationship                                                               
because she  knew it  was hurting herself  and the  unborn child.                                                               
Even if  she didn't know,  she should  have known because  of the                                                               
body of available evidence.                                                                                                     
Progress is being made in  the evolution of domestic violence and                                                               
sexual  assault  because in  the  last  ten years  we've  stopped                                                               
blaming the victim. However, the  situation Ms. Robinson outlined                                                               
could fall  under manslaughter and  criminal negligence,  but not                                                               
In the five years she has been  a legislator she has dealt with a                                                               
number  of sexual  assault and  domestic violence  bills and  the                                                               
issue of  aggravators has  come up.  It hasn't  been easy  to get                                                               
domestic violence  and sexual assault  bills passed.  Issues that                                                               
were smaller than this have failed in one body or the other.                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he would  be happy  to look at  an aggravator                                                               
bill for domestic violence and sexual assault.                                                                                  
10:01:45 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR THERRIAULT  read the terms, "recklessly  causes" and "the                                                               
person causes" from page 2, lines 18  and 23 and said that if you                                                               
fail  to   extricate  yourself   from  a   potentially  dangerous                                                               
situation you haven't caused the damage.                                                                                        
SENATOR CHARLIE HUGGINS said it  pales him to lean over backwards                                                               
to protect the mother while subordinating the fetus.                                                                            
Referencing page 5,  line 12 he read,  "...misconduct involving a                                                               
controlled  substance in  the first  degree," and  asked for  her                                                               
thoughts on that phrase.                                                                                                        
MS. ROBINSON said she didn't understand the question.                                                                           
SENATOR GUESS advised him that  misconduct involving a controlled                                                               
substance is another part of the law.                                                                                           
SENATOR HUGGINS  said he understands  that, he simply  wanted her                                                               
take on what that really means from her perspective.                                                                            
MS. ROBINSON  asked if  he was referring  to a  domestic violence                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS  said no, he  wanted to  know what that  means to                                                               
her if it's talking about misconduct of the mother.                                                                             
CHAIR SEEKINS said it's a felony to do that.                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS added it's a section of law.                                                                                      
10:05:48 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  clarified this adds  murder of an unborn  child to                                                               
the existing felonies.                                                                                                          
SENATOR HUGGINS said he understood  that then questioned if it is                                                               
conduct of the mother that is being described.                                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS replied it could be.                                                                                              
MS. ROBINSON  said yes,  it could be.  Under the  current version                                                               
there is  no exception  that the mother  could be  prosecuted for                                                               
something like  that, but  she wasn't clear  how that  relates to                                                               
the context  of domestic  violence and  whether he  wanted better                                                               
clarification from the Department of Law.                                                                                       
CHAIR SEEKINS  interpreted the  question to  ask how  people feel                                                               
about a pregnant woman who was  using a controlled substance in a                                                               
manner that caused the death of an unborn child.                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS said yes.                                                                                                       
MS. ROBINSON responded that is a whole other issue.                                                                             
10:07:52 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. JASMINE CHARIAN, 8th grade  student at Dzantik'i Heeni middle                                                               
school,  testified in  support of  SB 20.  She stated  the belief                                                               
that when  a fetus has  a heartbeat it  has life and  taking away                                                               
that  life  is unfair  to  the  baby and  even  more  so for  the                                                               
parents.  If   both  the  mother   and  the  fetus   are  injured                                                               
intentionally, more than one life should be recognized.                                                                         
10:09:30 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.   REBECCA   WHITEMAN,   Family   Violence   Prevention   Fund                                                               
representative, described  the nonprofit  as the  U.S. Department                                                               
of  Health  and  Human  Services   national  resource  center  on                                                               
domestic  violence and  healthcare. They  work on  policy at  the                                                               
federal  level  and  on  the issue  of  healthcare  and  domestic                                                               
violence  at the  statewide level.  Her area  of expertise  is in                                                               
prenatal health and she has been  working on how to better screen                                                               
for family violence into those programs.                                                                                        
10:10:38 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. WHITEMAN  said they were asked  to weigh in because  in other                                                               
states precedents  have been set  when people have  worked toward                                                               
something  that seemed  to be  a  good idea,  but had  unintended                                                               
consequences. She  expressed concern that  SB 20 could  put women                                                               
in harms  way and set them  up to be re-victimized.  The concerns                                                               
are exactly those  expressed by Ms. Robinson. If a  woman is in a                                                               
violent relationship  and a doctor  advises her to leave  and she                                                               
doesn't do  so she  might not  seek medical  care due  to concern                                                               
about what would happen to the partner.                                                                                         
10:13:05 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.   CHIP   WAGGONER,   executive   director   Alaska   Catholic                                                               
Conference, testified  that the  federal government has  passed a                                                               
similar  law with  regard to  crimes on  federal property  and at                                                               
least 29 states have passed a similar law.                                                                                      
MR. WAGONER expressed  the view that God created  each person and                                                               
as  such, each  person  has  dignity and  a  right  to life  from                                                               
conception to a natural death.                                                                                                  
10:14:12 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  WAGGONER said  SB 20  recognizes that  a child  in the  womb                                                               
deserves the same  protection as everyone in the  room. Quoting a                                                               
parent  who attended  the  Key  Campaign, he  said  that when  an                                                               
unborn child  is taken and a  parent's dreams for that  child are                                                               
shattered, the responsible party  should be held accountable. The                                                               
Catholic Conference fully  supports SB 20 and  would also support                                                               
those people  working in the  domestic violence arena  to prevent                                                               
domestic violence.  They and the Catholic  bishops recognize this                                                               
as  a serious  problem in  the state.  He clarified  the Catholic                                                               
Conference  is the  official public  policy voice  for the  Roman                                                               
Catholic Church in Alaska.                                                                                                      
10:16:02 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  GUESS  asked if  the  Catholic  Conference has  taken  a                                                               
position   on  whether   or  not   any   miscarriage  should   be                                                               
MR. WAGGONER replied  they have not taken a position  and none of                                                               
the  bishops  are   criminal  attorneys.  He  had   a  number  of                                                               
observations. He  suggested the  attorney general should  give an                                                               
opinion  on the  bill to  make  sure it  treats the  unborn in  a                                                               
manner  that  is   consistent  with  those  who   are  alive.  He                                                               
acknowledged that accidents do happen  and not all are crimes. He                                                               
hadn't  heard  prosecutorial   discretion  raised  and  certainly                                                               
prosecutors  do have  to decide  whether or  not something  falls                                                               
within the realm of an accident or  the realm of a crime. Not all                                                               
snowmobile  accidents  should result  in  a  charge of  negligent                                                               
homicide or  reckless endangerment.  He suggested the  same thing                                                               
would  happen  with  this  bill.  You  simply  have  to  rely  on                                                               
prosecutors to do the right thing.                                                                                              
10:19:09 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS  said he  didn't believe a  mother would  be held                                                               
responsible  for  exercising  during  pregnancy if  she  were  to                                                               
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked if  any  organization  affiliated with  the                                                               
Catholic Church has ever taken a  position that a mother could be                                                               
held  responsible  for  harm  to  an  unborn  child  if  she  was                                                               
participating in a lawful activities.                                                                                           
MR. WAGGONER said abortion.                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he  understood the  position on  abortion. He                                                               
was  talking  about  horseback  riding,   or  a  10K  race  or  a                                                               
rollercoaster ride.                                                                                                             
MR. WAGGONER said no.                                                                                                           
CHAIR  SEEKINS advised  the committee  is charged  with examining                                                               
potential bills to  make sure they comply with both  the U.S. and                                                               
state constitutions. It's  understood that Roe versus  Wade is an                                                               
interpretation of the Constitution but  what he's been hearing is                                                               
that the state  doesn't have the right to operate  in other areas                                                               
that people would have liked Roe versus Wade to have applied.                                                                   
Looking  strictly  at  the language  and  interpretation  of  Roe                                                               
versus  Wade, he  suggested that  nowhere does  it say  the state                                                               
cannot extend  protection of unborn  children in  situations that                                                               
are outside the particular circumstances  addressed in that case.                                                               
He  didn't believe  this bill  was treading  on dangerous  ground                                                               
with regard to Roe  versus Wade so when people say  that SB 20 is                                                               
treading on  their constitutional rights he  remains unconvinced.                                                               
He  encouraged  those  who opposed  the  bill  on  constitutional                                                               
grounds to bring supporting evidence forward.                                                                                   
If there  is conclusive evidence  that the committee  is treading                                                               
where  they are  not authorized  to tread,  he needs  to see  the                                                               
10:24:46 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR   SEEKINS   asked  Ms.   Carpeneti   to   comment  on   the                                                               
interpretation of the word, "causes" on page 2, lines 18 and 23.                                                                
10:25:13 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. ANNE  CARPENETI, criminal division, Department  of Law (DOL),                                                               
acknowledged  she  heard  the  discussion   that  a  woman  might                                                               
disregard  her   doctor's  advice   and  return  to   an  abusive                                                               
relationship  and  the  concern  about charges  if  there  was  a                                                               
subsequent miscarriage.  Those situations  would depend  on facts                                                               
and it  would be an  extreme fact  situation to argue  that going                                                               
back to the  relationship contributed to the death  of the unborn                                                               
CHAIR  SEEKINS   noted  that   Black's  Law   Dictionary  defines                                                               
"feticide" as the act or instance  of killing a fetus, usually by                                                               
assaulting and  battering the mother  - an  intentionally induced                                                               
miscarriage.  He asked  if  folding SB  20  into that  definition                                                               
would  come  closer  to  the  discussion  heard  that  day  about                                                               
unintentionally induced miscarriages.                                                                                           
MS.  CARPENETI  didn't know  that  the  term  used would  make  a                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked for  a definition to  protect the  mother so                                                               
that an unintentional miscarriage wouldn't be against the law.                                                                  
MS. CARPENETI replied  in murder of an unborn  child it's against                                                               
the law to  intend to cause the  death of an unborn  child or for                                                               
another person  to cause the  death of an unborn  child. Problems                                                               
arise  when  discussing  manslaughter  and  criminally  negligent                                                               
10:28:06 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  what  kind  of language  it  would take  to                                                               
exclude  the  unintentional  miscarriage  of  the  child  by  the                                                               
MS.  CARPENETI said  it was  too important  an issue  to give  an                                                               
opinion  without  more thought.  Last  year  lawful acts  by  the                                                               
mother  were  added  and  she  didn't know  if  the  sponsor  was                                                               
interested in going that direction this year.                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  said that  section of the  bill was  of particular                                                               
interest to him  and he didn't want anyone in  the justice system                                                               
to  charge that  they would  try  to put  a mother  on trial  for                                                               
participating in  a legal activity that  unintentionally caused a                                                               
Chair Seekins held SB 20 in committee.                                                                                          
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Seekins adjourned the meeting at 10:30:14 AM.                                                                           

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