Alaska Legislator Introduces Bill to Define Unborn Baby as a Person and Ban Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 19, 2017   |   3:52PM   |   Juneau, Alaska

An Alaska state lawmaker introduced a controversial bill Monday that would ban all abortions and protect unborn babies’ right to life.

Christian News reports the Life At Conception Act, or House Bill 250, introduced by state Rep. David Eastman, would put into law what the Alaska State Constitution already says.

Eastman said his bill will bring “state law into conformity with the Constitution of the State of Alaska, which provides that ‘all persons have a natural right to life,’ ‘all persons are equal and entitled to equal rights’ and ‘all persons are entitled to equal … protection under the law.’”

The bill also would repeal language from state murder and manslaughter laws that exempt abortions, and make the intentional killing of an unborn baby a crime of murder, Alaska Dispatch News reports.

Eastman said destroying the life of an unborn baby should carry the same penalties as destroying the life of a born child.

“[My bill] makes clear … that human life begins at conception, and that a child waiting to be born in Alaska is an Alaska resident if the mother of that child is an Alaska resident,” Eastman said in a statement. “Further, that child may not be transported to another state or country for the purpose of taking the life of that child.”

He also told the Liberator that lawmakers “have a responsibility to protect the least of these,” a reference to a biblical passage where Jesus tells his followers to take care of the most vulnerable members of society.

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News outlets report the bill does not have much chance of passing, and several lawyers said the courts would overturn the bill if it does.

Ryan Fortson, an assistant professor at University of Alaska Anchorage, told Dispatch: “The intent of the bill seems to be to legislatively outlaw abortion. And that is not only a violation of the Alaska Constitution — it would also be against the U.S. Constitution, at least as it’s currently interpreted. The courts won’t allow the Legislature to define how a constitutional provision is being interpreted — that’s the job of the courts.”

State Rep. Matt Claman, a Democrat and an attorney, made a similar statement about the bill being unconstitutional.

“To the extent that this is the legislature trying to interpret the Constitution, that is the Supreme Court’s role in our three branches of government. And any effort to introduce legislation that tells the Supreme Court how to interpret the Constitution is fundamentally flawed,” Claman said.

Similar bills in other states have been struck down in the courts. In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a personhood bill as unconstitutional because it recognized unborn babies as human beings with a right to life and banned all abortions.

Many pro-lifers think the best strategy for ending legalized abortion is to work to overturn Roe v. Wade.

However, the current Supreme Court justices are highly unlikely to do so. President Donald Trump promised to nominate “pro-life” justices to the high court, but he would have to nominate and the U.S. Senate would have to confirm several justice before there is a chance of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

The pro-life movement also has historically opposed punishing women who have abortions. While pro-life advocates yearn for the day when unborn children are protected in the law and abortions are banned, many focus on holding abortion practitioners criminally accountable for the unborn children they kill. Current abortion bans, such as the ban on partial-birth abortions, do not punish women who have abortions.