It's difficult to imagine today that Alaska was once at the forefront of women's rights, and reproductive choice, but in 1913, the Alaska Territorial Legislature gave women the right to vote as its first official act. In 1970, a successful state-wide grassroots movement to reform Alaska's abortion law, made Alaska the third state in the country to make abortion legal and safe, three years before Roe v. Wade. Alaska has a proud history of individual choice, privacy, and non-governmental interference in its citizens' personal lives.
So, it's also difficult to imagine how it would be that today's "conservatives" who claim to support this notion of a small government that stays out of your business, and out of your healthcare would be eagerly dismantling that philosophy in the Alaska legislature. Well... only when it comes to women.
We've seen legislation across the country that seeks to disempower women from making choices about their own bodies, their healthcare, and their reproduction. We've even seen places like Virginia and Texas propose mandatory ultrasound bills that would actually force women to undergo invasive medical procedures that have nothing to do with their medical care, and everything to do with politics. Conservatives who wail about the government getting between you and your doctor apparently find no problem legislating mandatory, unnecessary, invasive, and expensive medical procedures for women, who are in the process of making a difficult and perhaps painful decision.
Alaska is now on board. The "Extreme Team" of right-wing Republicans in the state senate, starring Cathy Giessel (R), Fred Dyson (R), John Coghill (R), Charlie Huggins (R) (and their token DINO Donny Olson "D") have sponsored a forced ultrasound bill in the Alaska legislature.
...SB 191, mandates that the physician perform an ultrasound regardless of its medical necessity prior to performing an abortion -- even though the Alaska Supreme Court has stated repeatedly that Alaska laws may not place unnecessary burdens on a woman's right to an abortion. Forcing doctors to perform ultrasounds for political and not medical reasons is the definition of government intrusion.Senator Dyson also tried to get a similar bill passed in 2009 stating that a forced ultrasound was "intended to ensure that a woman's decision whether to abort is a measured, not emotional, one." We can't just have women making decisions the way they think is best, now can we? They must be saved from themselves via forced medical procedures. You know how emotional they can be.
But wait, there's more!
No More Full Disclosure of Options
Sarah Palin appointee, and fellow church member Rep. Wes Keller has also introduced a bill to eliminate public funding for abortion in most cases.
HB363, which will be heard on Thursday, forbids full disclosure of pregnancy options and referrals for abortions, in flagrant violation of requirements made by federal funding laws. But abortion is a fundamental right in Alaska, as protected by two State Supreme Court rulings in1997 and 2001. Any law limiting access, particularly one such as HB363 that targets poor women, is an attack on our Alaskan values: individual freedom from government interference, privacy and fair treatment under the law.
Abortion Permission Slips from Men
And if you're not fully convinced yet that Alaska is the next front in the GOP's war on women, you just have to listen to State Rep. Alan Dick (R). He said that he doesn't believe that when a woman is pregnant, it's really "her pregnancy." As a matter of fact, he would advocate for criminalizing women who have an abortion without the permission via written signature from the man who impregnated her. He stated, "If I thought that the man's signature was required... required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I'd have a little more peace about it..." He didn't say whether a rapist would be able to send his signature via fax from prison, or not. But Mr. Dick (the jokes are too easy) will have a little "peace," and women will require a permission slip for their own bodies. It'll save them from all that annoying decision making.
Outraged Alaskans can take action now and tell Alaska legislators to vote NO on HB 363 on Thursday.
And to women in all 50 states -- remember, at this point you still have the right to vote, and to voice your opinion loudly and without permission. Use them.
Follow Jeanne Devon (AKMuckraker) on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Mudflats