Alaska Governor Takes Heat for Signing Abortion Information Law
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
August 3, 2004
Juneau, AK (LifeNews.com) — The Governor of Alaska is taking heat from Planned Parenthood for signing a law designed to provide accurate information on abortion’s risks and alternatives to women considering abortions.
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business, is accusing Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) of breaking a 2002 campaign pledge stating that he would not seek to change the state’s abortion policies.
But a spokeswoman for the Governor, Becky Hultberg, said the Governor’s decision to sign Senate Bill 30 does not represent a broken campaign promise.
“Courts have ruled abortion is legal,” Hultberg told the Anchorage Daily News. “We do not believe (the bill) changes that policy.”
The new law sets up a state website with information about fetal development, including links to photos “of a typical unborn child, at four-week gestational increments.”
The site also contains information about the risks and complications of both abortion and childbirth; the potential psychological side-effects of both; and descriptions of abortion methods.
Similar state laws providing that kind of information to women before abortions have reduced the number of abortions.
Under the law, a woman seeking an abortion would have to certify in writing that her doctor either gave her the information from the web site or some other set of abortion information that “a reasonable patient would consider material” when deciding whether or not to choose abortion.
The law also requires that a medical professional tells the woman the gestational age of the unborn child prior to an abortion.
Planned Parenthood issued a statement saying the law is intended to shame Alaska women who seek abortions. The group added that the Governor “broke yet another campaign promise” in signing the legislation.
Planned Parenthood also released a 2002 statement Murkowski sent to Republican women who support legal abortion. The statement said, "I believe the state of Alaska has created a reasonable abortion policy and would not seek to change the current policy."
A pair of Republican lawmakers, Cynthia Toohey and Andrew Halcro, also took Murkowski to task for signing the bill. But observers note that the legislators’ response was not surprising, considering both are pro-abortion and Halcro’s wife works for Planned Parenthood.
The Governor’s office responded by noting the informed consent law’s positive aspects.
"It’s a way to ensure that a woman about to make a life-altering decision has access to all valuable information," Hultberg told the Anchorage Daily News. "In our view, that’s a very positive thing."
During legislative debate on the bill, lawmakers heard from women who testified that they did not receive all the information they wanted or needed before undergoing their abortions. If they had the information beforehand, they may have changed their minds, the women said.
The measure passed the House in May by a 30-9 vote. The Senate approved the bill in 2003 by a vote of 12 to 8.
The Alaska website will also provide women with information about medical assistance benefits and child support orders.
The requirements of the law can be waived if the pregnancy results from rape or sexual abuse or if the life of the mother is in danger.
Under the law, all information on the website must be “objective and unbiased” and approved by obstetrical and gynecological specialists appointed by the state medical board.