Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/06/2020 01:30 PM Senate HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSB 120(HSS) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved SJR 13 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          SJR 13-CONST. AM: PROHIBIT ABORTION/FUNDING                                                                       
2:26:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON   announced  the  consideration  of   SENATE  JOINT                                                               
RESOLUTION NO.  13, "Proposing an  amendment to  the Constitution                                                               
of the State of Alaska relating to abortion."                                                                                   
CHAIR WILSON  noted that the  committee heard an overview  of the                                                               
resolution, took  invited testimony, and began  public testimony.                                                               
Today the committee will continue public testimony.                                                                             
2:27:18 PM                                                                                                                    
KARINA KOWALSKI, representing self,  Fairbanks, Alaska, said that                                                               
when she was  19, she had two children, was  on state assistance,                                                               
and  got  pregnant  after  her  birth  control  failed.  She  was                                                               
terrified  about the  future  for her  children.  Almost all  her                                                               
paycheck went  to childcare and  all three of them  were sleeping                                                               
on her grandma's  futon. She had an abortion at  10 weeks and had                                                               
an IUD inserted  and has not had any  unplanned pregnancies since                                                               
then.  A  few  years  later  she   was  able  to  get  off  state                                                               
assistance. She  said she  does not  regret her  decision because                                                               
she  does  not  know  where  she would  be  today  if  her  third                                                               
pregnancy had  continued. She  said she  is grateful  for Planned                                                               
Parenthood  and that  the  state  does not  force  women to  give                                                               
2:29:33 PM                                                                                                                    
JUSTINE COOKE, representing self,  Bethel and St. Mary's, Alaska,                                                               
said  she  understands that  it  is  unethical to  order  medical                                                               
professionals to  perform abortions. She offered  her belief that                                                               
this resolution does not favor the  people in Alaska but would be                                                               
a show of  power and control by extremists  over individuals. She                                                               
expressed concern that  it would remove pathways  for families in                                                               
poverty. It  would show the  dominance of colonization  by taking                                                               
away choice  from the  less-dominant group.  Learned helplessness                                                               
is the term describing people  who have little control over their                                                               
lives. She had  the choice of abortion during  her pregnancy, but                                                               
she did not choose it.  However, she believes pregnancy should be                                                               
a choice.  She asked the committee  to make a choice  in favor of                                                               
the less fortunate groups in Alaska.                                                                                            
2:32:03 PM                                                                                                                    
PHILLIP MORIN,  representing self,  Kenai, Alaska, said  he would                                                               
read a  letter written by  Bob Bird, a retired  schoolteacher and                                                               
former president of  Alaska Right to Life. Mr.  Bird is currently                                                               
a radio talk show host for KSRM. He read:                                                                                       
     Abortion is a crime  against humanity. The legalization                                                                    
     of abortion  by Alaska in  1970 will stand as  a blight                                                                    
     and a  disgrace in the  eyes of history. By  enacting a                                                                    
     constitutional  amendment that  states abortion  is not                                                                    
     recognized as a right, the  state would be playing into                                                                    
     the  hands of  leftists  to favor  legal abortion.  The                                                                    
     amendment   would  recognize   things   that  are   not                                                                    
     constitutional. The  courts have no authority  to grant                                                                    
     new  rights.  That  is  for  the  legislature  and  the                                                                    
     people. The legislature  already has the constitutional                                                                    
     authority to  halt the court's creation  of abortion as                                                                    
     a fundamental, constitutional  right. Through ignorance                                                                    
     and  cowardice,  the  legislature has  not  called  the                                                                    
     judiciary's bluff.  It is arguably  another impeachable                                                                    
     offense  for the  courts to  mandate public  funding of                                                                    
     abortion.  This   violates  the  power  of   the  purse                                                                    
     reserved to the legislature.                                                                                               
2:34:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CATHLEEN  ROLPH,   representing  self,  Soldotna,   Alaska,  said                                                               
abortion is  an emotional decision  that should  be left up  to a                                                               
woman  and  her  doctor,  not  the  state.  There  are  differing                                                               
philosophies  about when  a fetus  is  a person.  There are  many                                                               
moral traditions.  The U.S. Constitution bestowed  the freedom of                                                               
religion on  citizens. The government  has no right to  force one                                                               
religious  tradition  on  all  women.  Thanks  to  Roe  v.  Wade,                                                               
abortion  is legal.  Women  are  free to  decide  not  to get  an                                                               
abortion.  The  lack  of  access  to  abortion  does  not  reduce                                                               
abortion and at least eight  percent of maternal deaths worldwide                                                               
are from unsafe abortions.                                                                                                      
2:37:16 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHLEEN  TAYLOR  YOKEL,  representing self,  Fairbanks,  Alaska,                                                               
said   as  a   woman,   it  is   unconscionable,  arrogant,   and                                                               
overreaching that  anyone could believe  he or she has  the right                                                               
to  interfere   with  any  decision   between  herself   and  her                                                               
physician.  She   related  her   mother's  experience   with  two                                                               
unplanned pregnancies while  she was on birth  control, after her                                                               
doctor had warned  her not to have any more  children for medical                                                               
reasons.  It  was  more  prudent  for  her  mother  to  have  two                                                               
abortions to live and care for  her three children. Those who try                                                               
to  control  women's  reproductive freedom  by  interfering  with                                                               
their medical care must be stopped.                                                                                             
2:39:37 PM                                                                                                                    
JEAN JAMES, representing  self, Fairbanks, Alaska, said  she is a                                                               
mother and  grandmother who is  urging the committee not  to move                                                               
SJR 13 out of committee. She  asked members to focus on important                                                               
issues facing Alaska, including  the fiscal crisis, mental health                                                               
issues, permanent  fund dividend issues, and  increasing Alaska's                                                               
revenue. Medical  decisions should be  left to doctors  and their                                                               
patients. Women and doctors should  not be criminalized or jailed                                                               
for  seeking  essential  health care.  Restricting  abortions  or                                                               
making them illegal does not prevent  them. She said it is ironic                                                               
that people  who do  not want government  in their  lives support                                                               
this.  The best  way  to reduce  the number  of  abortions is  to                                                               
increase  access to  birth control  and sex  education that  goes                                                               
beyond  abstinence.  Countries  that have  legal  abortion,  easy                                                               
access to  birth control,  and excellent  sex education  have the                                                               
lowest abortion rates, she said.                                                                                                
2:41:37 PM                                                                                                                    
KAREN LEWIS,  Alaska Right to  Life, Mat-Su, Alaska, said  SJR 13                                                               
is a good  amendment. It is simple and to  the point. It protects                                                               
human  life. Previous  testifiers  discussed babies  as if  these                                                               
babies were nothing to be  considered. People have become callous                                                               
because of  Roe v. Wade.  It was  estimated that 5,000  women got                                                               
abortions  before  that  decision,  but since  then  at  least  a                                                               
million   have  been   performed.  SJR   13  enforces   what  the                                                               
Declaration of Independence states,  that people are endowed with                                                               
certain inalienable  rights, among  these are life,  liberty, and                                                               
the pursuit  of happiness.  She offered  her belief  that Planned                                                               
Parenthood  kills babies  for a  hefty  fee and  sells baby  body                                                               
2:44:04 PM                                                                                                                    
KAREN CRANDALL, Alaska  Right to Life, Wasilla,  Alaska, said SJR
13 is a great amendment, one that  is simple and to the point, to                                                               
protect human life.  The Bible says, "You knit me  together in my                                                               
mother's  womb. I  thank you  because I  am awesomely  made. Your                                                               
works are  wonders." She said  she made  a decision to  not abort                                                               
her baby  when she  was 20.  A fetus is  a person.  People should                                                               
keep  in  mind  the  14th  amendment,  which  was  made  for  the                                                               
protection  of human  life.  She hopes  that  Americans can  stop                                                               
aborting what is made in the image of God.                                                                                      
2:46:26 PM                                                                                                                    
MARY ANNE  BISHOP, representing self,  Cordova, Alaska,  said she                                                               
is a single  mother with a special-needs child.  She is surprised                                                               
that there  is a move to  amend the Constitution of  the State of                                                               
Alaska in a  way that would take away a  woman's right to privacy                                                               
and  reproductive control.  Women have  a moral  right to  decide                                                               
what to do with their bodies.  The right to abortion is vital for                                                               
gender equality. Women have a  right to legal and safe abortions.                                                               
Banning  abortions puts  women at  risk  by forcing  them to  use                                                               
illegal abortionists.                                                                                                           
2:47:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CARL HEDMAN,  representing self, Valdez,  Alaska, said SJR  13 is                                                               
an important issue that should be  put on the ballot for citizens                                                               
of the  state to decide,  just as  for the protection  of natural                                                               
resources  and marijuana.  The citizens  of the  state should  be                                                               
heard on the important issue of protecting life itself.                                                                         
2:49:04 PM                                                                                                                    
GREGG  MARXMILLER, representing  self,  Dillingham, Alaska,  said                                                               
SJR 13 is political issue that  seeks to divide rather than bring                                                               
people together.  It is not the  role of the state  to make moral                                                               
laws, but to make laws that  are best for it citizens. Let people                                                               
make their own  decisions about how to live their  lives. He said                                                               
there  are  many social  and  economic  ramifications to  passing                                                               
something irresponsible like this  considering the amount of rape                                                               
and sexual assault in the state.                                                                                                
2:51:02 PM                                                                                                                    
NOAH  WILLIAMS, representing  self, Juneau,  Alaska, said  others                                                               
have   made   the  moral   arguments   why   the  resolution   is                                                               
preposterous. He  expressed surprise that people  who favor small                                                               
government seek  more power over  women's bodies and he  does not                                                               
agree with such laws. He  suggested that something should be done                                                               
to  reduce the  highest rates  of sexual  assault in  the nation.                                                               
Even though  the legislature  and the  governor take  a tough-on-                                                               
crime stance,  sexual assault  crimes have  only worsened  in the                                                               
past year.  He raised other  issues, such that shelves  are empty                                                               
and communities  are s5tarving because the  Alaska Marine Highway                                                               
is in dire need of repair,  and preparation for Covid-19 has been                                                               
dangerously sparse.  If the legislature  wants to save  lives, it                                                               
should increase  funding for teen dating  violence prevention and                                                               
sex  education, stand  up  for  the ferries  and  figure out  how                                                               
Alaska will deal with the new [COVID-19] disease.                                                                               
2:52:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHERYL LOVEGREEN, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, said SJR
13  is  a   terrible  bill  that  would   permanently  amend  the                                                               
Constitution  of the  State of  Alaska to  restrict the  right to                                                               
privacy,  ban  safe  and legal  abortion,  even  for  pregnancies                                                               
resulting  from  rape  and incest.  She  expressed  concern  that                                                               
Alaska has high  domestic violence and sexual  assault rates. She                                                               
expressed further  concern that  banning abortions would  lead to                                                               
illegal abortions  that can injure  and kill both  mother. Alaska                                                               
needs  better health  care for  teen girls  and women,  she said.                                                               
Almost 80 percent of Alaskan voters  have doubts about a law that                                                               
bans abortions. This  is a bad bill trying to  fill a nonexistent                                                               
mandate, she said.                                                                                                              
2:53:46 PM                                                                                                                    
DIANE PENDERGRAST, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, said no                                                               
restrictions should be placed on  funding for abortions. No woman                                                               
should  be  restricted  from  abortion  services,  especially  in                                                               
Alaska  with   its  high   rate  of   sexual  abuse   and  sexual                                                               
exploitation of women.  No one wants abortion,  but people should                                                               
not blame  or restrict women during  one of the hardest  times of                                                               
their lives.  She suggested that the  legislature should increase                                                               
funding  for  abortions  to  assist   women  to  gain  access  to                                                               
providers and  support Planned  Parenthood, an  organization that                                                               
has helped her. "Could we please just support women," she said.                                                                 
2:56:10 PM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK  MARTIN,  Alaska Right  to  Life,  Wasilla, Alaska,  said                                                               
Alaska Right  to Life has mild  concerns with SJR 13.  It follows                                                               
the  examples  of  Tennessee,  West  Virginia,  and  Alabama  and                                                               
renders  the  constitution  neutral  on  abortion,  but  abortion                                                               
proponents are  anything but neutral.  Babies waiting to  be born                                                               
deserve  the  same legal  protections  that  others enjoy,  legal                                                               
protections that  begin at conception and  remain through natural                                                               
end of  life. He expressed concern  that SJR 13 is  silent on the                                                               
right to life  and neutral about killing babies  before birth. He                                                               
offered his belief that God's  design for government requires the                                                               
protection of  innocent human  life and  the punishment  of those                                                               
who take  it. He expressed concern  that SJR 13 is  silent on the                                                               
fact that  abortion is  murder. He  asked members  to proactively                                                               
protect babies  from the moment  of conception. He urged  them to                                                               
look into  the merits of  passing the  Life at Conception  Act in                                                               
addition to SJR 13.                                                                                                             
2:58:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  closed public testimony.  He noted that SJR  13 has                                                               
about 200 pages  of written testimony that is part  of the public                                                               
record. It has two other  committees of referral, so there should                                                               
be opportunity for further testimony.                                                                                           
2:59:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON solicited a motion.                                                                                                
2:59:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL moved  to report  SJR 13,  version 31-LS1398\A,                                                                
from committee with individual  recommendations and attached zero                                                               
fiscal note(s).  There being  no objection,  SJR 13  was reported                                                               
from the Senate Health and Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 120 Public Input 3.5.20.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 120
SJR 13 Public Input No. 1 3.5.20.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SJR 13
SJR 13 Public Input No. 2 3.5.20.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SJR 13
SB 179 SHSS DCEED Follow-Up Information 3.4.20.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 179
SB 179 Public Input 3.5.20.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 179
SB 179 Public Input 3.6.20.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 179
SJR 13 Public Input 3.6.20.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SJR 13
Lee_SB120_SHSS_03062020.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 120
Bird_SJR13_SHSS_03062020.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SJR 13
Lee_SJR13_SHSS_03062020.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SJR 13
Brower_SJR13_SHSS_03062020.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SJR 13
Rolph_SJR13_SHSS_03062020.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SJR 13
Timlin_SJR13_SHSS_03062020.pdf SHSS 3/6/2020 1:30:00 PM
SJR 13