Senate Dems Slam Abortion Bill as ‘Offensive’

by Mark D. Miller/JUNEAU EMPIRE

Senate Democrats Wednesday excoriated a bill by Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole, that seeks to define a “medically necessary” abortion and restrict state funding for the controversial procedure.

Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, called a provision in Senate Bill 49, which was introduced on Monday, “frankly nothing less than offensive” for requiring rape and incest victims to report the crime “promptly” to police or public health officials in order to receive funding from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for an abortion.

“This is a state that has the worst sex abuse and sex assault rates in the nation,” French said during a Senate minority caucus press conference Wednesday morning. “Many, many victims do not report for very obvious reasons. It’s an extremely difficult crime to report. It’s an extremely difficult crime to come forward with. And I don’t see how you can possibly ask to tie that reporting requirement to the fact that a rape or act of incest has happened.”

. . . Matt Johnson, executive director of Alaska Right to Life, called French’s characterization of the bill’s “promptly report” provision “a little over the top.”

“I’m not sure what Sen. French is trying to accomplish, but it seems like if you’re really trying to protect women from men who are predators, those men need to be outed,” said Johnson, whose organization is based in Anchorage. “If you want the state to pay for (abortion), you know, I think the state has an interest in catching predators like this, and the state has an interest in securing its citizens and protecting them against those kind of people.”

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