Alaska Legislature Refuses Governor’s Call to Confirm His Questionable Pick For Attorney General

Yesterday, the legislature refused Governor Walker’s call to joint session to act upon his appointment of the attorney general, among other appointees. The attorney general – Jahna Lindemuth – is one of his most controversial picks, and many legislators are uncertain that she should be confirmed. Some contend she needs more vetting before the legislature should act to confirm.

In the following open letter, Representative David Eastman confronted the Governor’s nominee, demanding that she clarify a number of troubling statements she made to the legislature during her first appearance there:

Dear Acting Attorney General Lindemuth,

Yesterday, after a lengthy confirmation process, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice. The legislative confirmation process is a fundamental piece of our constitutional framework. It is through this process that the qualities, loyalties and competence of nominees are examined through a public process.

The Delegates to Alaska’s Constitutional Convention provided that Alaska’s Attorney General would be appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the governor. However, they also wisely determined that all such appointments would be subject to confirmation of the entire legislature, providing a formal check against any governor who would appoint to office an individual who was in any way unfit for that office. They also provided that, before entering office, the attorney general would take a solemn oath, declaring her loyalty to the Constitution of the State of Alaska over and above any felt loyalty to the individual who had appointed her to office.

On February 22nd, you appeared before us in the House Judiciary Committee for your first hearing in the legislative confirmation process. During that hearing the following exchanges took place (paraphrased in pertinent part below):

Question: How do you see your role as attorney general?

Answer: When it comes down to it, the buck stops here, as the top lawyer for the state, the attorney general is responsible for the legal decisions made (for example, taking a course of action, initiating litigation, or settling a big case).

Question: If one of the branches of government, the judiciary, is overstepping its bounds and is usurping the legislature’s authority by legislating from the bench, how do you see your role as an attorney general in that type of situation?

Answer: The Alaska Supreme Court is the constitutional interpreter of Alaska law as the final arbiter, and the department has to defer to it.

Question: The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that a fishery cannot be managed from the ballot box. Are you comfortable defending that position? Do you feel strong enough to engage in the Alaska Supreme Court’s decision?

Answer: If the Alaska Supreme Court has spoken on an issue of Alaska law, the Department of Law defers to the Alaska Supreme Court on that particular issue.

Question: If the governor were to violate state law, as attorney general, how would you approach the tension between your knowledge and understanding of what the law is, and a situation where the governor was violating the law?

Answer: Soft advice behind the scene is the best way to keep the administration on task and within the rule of law. I recently met an elected attorney general who was within the first two years of his tenure and he has already sued his governor four times. That is not a functional system, and possibly, that’s not the best way to address concerns.

Question: How would you deal with a situation where you think you have a winnable case for the people of Alaska, and the governor thinks differently? To whom is your obligation?

Answer: The governor is just one of my clients, although the governor is the top elected official and as such he does make the final policy call when policy calls are to be made.

At the close of your confirmation hearing in the house, I announced that I would be objecting to your confirmation at that time, but that it was my hope that you would take the next few weeks to consider the responses of members of the committee to the answers you provided, and provide additional information that might lead me to vote in favor of your confirmation.

It has now been seven weeks since you came before us for confirmation, and I have not received any further information with regard to the various concerns that were identified during your first confirmation hearing. As it stands today, the following concerns prevent me from voting to confirm you as Alaska’s Attorney General:

1) I am concerned that you are unable to distinguish your loyalty to the governor as a member of his cabinet, from your responsibilities to the constitution and to the public.

2) I am concerned that you may fail to provide effective legal representation to your client, the people of Alaska, when presented with a winnable case that comes in conflict with a governor’s political agenda.

3) I am concerned that you will be unable to defend the Constitution of the State of Alaska as attorney general.

As the chief law enforcement official in Alaska, and the legal advisor to the governor, our state relies heavily upon your ability and commitment, in keeping with your oath of office, to “support and defend” the Constitution of the State of Alaska. Your statutory duty to defend the constitution requires knowledge of the constitution and the ability to discriminate between interpretations of the constitution that are accurate and interpretations that are inaccurate. The possession of unquestioned loyalty to any interpretation promulgated by the Alaska Supreme Court is not an asset to a public official who may one day be required to provide legal advice to the governor as to how he should respond to an unconstitutional decision on the part of the court, especially at a time when courts across the country are expressing a willingness to entertain questions formerly reserved to the political branches. As attorney general, the decision to simply defer to the opinions of the court in all cases whatsoever, is at best a very tenuous position.

Youth in Alaska’s schools can readily tell you of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court that deprived Americans of their rights under the Constitution. Dred Scott, Korematsu, Plessy and others are widely cited today as cases in which the Supreme Court got it wrong. Certainly our Alaska Supreme Court is no less fallible. Bess v. Ulmer represents a textbook case of an Alaska court overstepping its bounds and creating out of whole cloth a new, and hitherto unimagined, power of the court to veto constitutional amendments. Such innovations inevitably come at the expense of the other branches of government and ultimately at the expense of the people of Alaska. Alaskans cannot afford to have an attorney general today who will defer to continued innovations on the part of Alaska’s Supreme Court. For these reasons, I am unable to support your confirmation as Attorney General of the State of Alaska at this time.

Further, because of observations that I and other legislators have made throughout this confirmation process, I am currently working with colleagues to draft legislation making Attorney General for the State of Alaska an elective office, thereby ensuring that future attorneys general for the State of Alaska will be sufficiently independent to fight for Alaska’s interests and to be accountable to the public.

Sincerely,

David Eastman
State Representative

Professor Paints Picture of Trump’s Decapitated Head, Puts It on Display at Alaska College

A professor at an Alaska university has put a painting of President Donald Trump’s decapitated head on display at the college art gallery.

Thomas Chung, assistant professor of painting at the University of Alaska Anchorage, painted a portrait of a “Captain America” actor holding Trump’s severed head with two eagles to his side and a young Hillary Clinton holding onto the actor’s leg, KTUU reported.

“I was reminded of those ’80s rock posters,” said Chung, “where there’s a woman in tattered clothes clinging to a strong male hero’s leg.”

The professor explained that the 2016 presidential election results influenced his painting.

“After Trump was elected, I spent days just weeping,” the professor said. “And it was really surprising, because I’m not a political person. I am a social artist. I deal mostly in ideals of culture and global culture, but this election bled into that.” (For more from the author of “Professor Paints Picture of Trump’s Decapitated Head, Puts It on Display at College” please click HERE)

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Russian Bombers Spotted off Alaskan Coast Twice in 24 Hours

Two Russian TU-95 Bear bombers were spotted flying about 41 miles off the coast of Alaska on Tuesday, just hours after two US F-22 fighter jets intercepted the same type of Russian aircraft in the area.

An E-3 surveillance aircraft was scrambled in response to the second sighting of Russian bombers off the Alaskan coast in 24 hours, a US defense official told CNN.

It is unclear if these were the same planes that were intercepted by the F-22s on Monday, but defense officials told CNN that it was a separate violation.

On Tuesday, the two Russian TU-95 Bear bombers once again flew into the Alaskan Air Defense and Identification Zone, according to two US defense officials. The closest the bombers came was 36 nautical miles off the mainland Alaskan coast, and they flew 745 nautical miles southwest of Anchorage. (Read more from “Russian Bombers Spotted off Alaskan Coast Twice in 24 Hours” HERE)

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State Funded Abortions Increase 27% under Alaska’s Governor Walker; Dangerous Chemical Abortions Increase as Well

Abortions reported in Alaska dropped last year, but increasingly, abortion practitioners are performing chemical abortions later in pregnancy – killing later-term unborn babies and exposing mothers to greater risks of complications that result in surgery.

According to the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, in 2016, 1,260 abortions were performed in Alaska, a five-percent drop from 2015 and the fewest since 2003 when Alaska began recording data.

At the same time, chemical abortions were performed on unborn babies up to four months gestation – well beyond the point the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers safe for women. There were 329 chemical abortions, including 40 between 9 and 12 weeks, two between 13 and 16 weeks – or four months – and one at a gestational age “not stated.”

LATER & LATER CHEMICAL ABORTION

Chemical abortions involve the mother’s ingestion of a high-powered mix of synthetic hormones which cause the unborn baby’s nourishing placenta to detach from the uterine wall. These abortions often employ mifepristone (RU-486), in combination with other drugs.

Chemical abortions typically require at least three trips to the abortion facility. After the first round of drugs is administered in the clinic, up to 30 percent of women abort later at home or work, and as many as five days later.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, once the research arm of the billion-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood, there were 272,400 chemical abortions performed in the U.S. in 2014, about 29.4 percent of the total – an increase of 13.8 percent in three years. According to Alaska’s report, in 2016 chemical abortions were 26.5 percent of the state’s total.

There are serious and well-documented medical side effects of chemical abortions, including severe bleeding and lethal systemic infection (sepsis). In fact, since RU-486 came on the market in the U.S. in 2000, maternal deaths from legal abortion have reached over 100.

BEYOND FDA LIMIT

The dangers of chemical abortions increase with the age of the unborn baby. The federal Food and Drug Administration’s drug protocols limited the use of RU-486 to the first seven weeks of pregnancy because of increased risk of failure if used later. Resulting “incomplete abortions” means aborting women end up in surgical abortions sometimes weeks after.

Nevertheless, in 2016, the Obama Administration issued new RU-486 protocols for use up to 10 weeks or two-and-a-half months.

Last year’s chemical abortions in Alaska were done on unborn babies up to 16 weeks or four months.

In fact, every year since 2003, when Alaska began recording data, abortion practitioners in the state have reported using RU-486 beyond the FDA’s original seven-week limit and even beyond the new 10-week limit.

From 2003 through 2015 — while FDA’s seven-week protocol was in place — Alaska abortionists performed an average of 12 RU-486 abortions annually on unborn babies between nine and 12 weeks (This does not include those performed in 2004 since abortion method data for that year was not included in the Bureau’s annual reports). In 2016, chemical abortions on babies in that age range hit 40.

These do not include those abortions in which abortionists fail to state the baby’s age — a regular occurrence. In 2013 alone, abortionists reported 32 RU-486 abortions without identifying the baby’s age.

In 2005, 2014 and 2016, abortionists performed four chemical abortions on unborn babies ages 13 to 16 weeks.

It is not clear how many women suffered complications in these RU-486 abortions. Alaska does not require abortion practitioners who administer chemical abortion drugs to report complications. In the State of Ohio, where abortion providers are required to do so, RU-486 complications in three reporting counties more than doubled after the FDA relaxed its protocols.

Despite the dangers, Planned Parenthood continues to expand use of RU-486, calling it “a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy.” And abortion practitioners are pushing to allow chemical abortion drugs be administered directly by pharmacies or ordered online, doing away with appointments with a doctor.

BABY’S MILESTONES

By the time RU-486 abortions are performed, an unborn baby has reached significant milestones in her life.

At fertilization on day one, the embryonic baby is an individual distinct from her mother. By 22 days the unborn baby’s heart begins to beat, often with a blood type different from her mother’s.

At five weeks of pregnancy, the unborn baby’s nervous system is forming.

By the seventh week of pregnancy — the original FDA limit for RU-486 — the unborn child has a face, arms and legs. She kicks and swims.

At the eighth week, every organ is in place, fingerprints form, and the baby starts to hear.

In the 10th week — the FDA’s new RU-486 limit — the baby can turn her head, frown and hiccup.

By the 12th week, the baby — with nerves and a spinal cord — can experience pain. And the baby can suck her thumb.

By 16 weeks – or four months – the baby’s heart is pumping 25 quarts of blood a day. By the end of the fourth month, the baby is 8-10 inches tall and weighs up to a half-pound.

ALASKA REPORTING REQUIREMENTS LAX

Alaska’s abortion statistics are based on forms submitted from across Alaska by abortion practitioners who are required by law to report the procedures. Compared to many states, Alaska’s abortion reporting requirements are considered lax. Abortion practitioners may refuse to disclose data such as the methods they used and the ages of the babies they aborted. If a baby’s age is disclosed, it need only be the abortionist’s estimate.

“This report uses the physician’s estimate of gestational age,” states the Bureau’s report. But it is not clear on what basis reporting abortionists make their estimates. Relying only on an estimate of the baby’s age, the abortion practitioner may not provide a woman sufficient information to make a fully informed decision and could imperil her health.

Moreover, Alaska abortionists are not required by state law to perform an ultrasound before an abortion, the gold standard tool to date and locate a pregnancy. Chemical abortion is contraindicated in the case of ectopic or tubal pregnancy. But without an ultrasound, a tubal pregnancy is easy to miss. Ingesting RU-486 could result in a ruptured fallopian tube, a deadly prospect for child and mother.

Abortion practitioners risk little if they don’t fully report or even if they furnish false information to the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics: a misdemeanor and, if convicted, a fine of not more than $100.

PUBLIC FUNDING OF ABORTIONS

In 2016, 556 (44.1 percent) of all Alaska abortions were paid for through state Medicaid funds. That compares to 438 abortions (33 percent) in 2015 (that’s a 27% increase in state-funded abortions from 2015 to 2016). (For more from the author of “State Funded Abortions Increase 27% under Alaska’s Governor Walker; Dangerous Chemical Abortions Increase as Well” please click HERE)

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Don’t You See What’s Happening? Walker Isn’t Selling–Walker’s Buying!!

There’s a memorable scene in the classic Christmas movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” that aptly sums up what is taking place in Juneau this year. In the scene, Jimmy Stewart passionately explains to his neighbors how the local tycoon’s offer to take over the town’s insolvent bank in exchange for their rights as stockholders really isn’t as generous as it sounds.

Alaskans today face an orchestrated campaign designed to convince them that their future is inexorably tied to the continued government takeover of our economy and that they should abandon their investment in any other future. It’s a powerful message. No doubt some reading this have already been convinced.

The message is not geared for those who work for the state. No, state employees and contractors don’t need to be convinced. Their future really IS tied up in the growth of state government. It’s all the rest of us that this campaign is directed at.

Under this campaign, threatening Alaskan veterans and seniors with fake eviction notices is A-Okay if it results in Mat-Su residents telling their legislators to pass an income tax. In fact, the greater the hysteria, the greater the effect. As with any bailout, the overarching goal boils down to one basic thing: to push consequences off of state government and onto somebody (everybody) else. State government is what must come first. It is the truly essential part of our state: “The people may come and go, but we must take care of the government.”

Do you see what is happening? Special interests rallied together to put a governor into office. That governor has now put them and the state agencies they partner with to the front of the line. Voila! Time for a government bailout! Note: Even though we have over $15 Billion in reserves, we call this a “fiscal crisis”.

Of course, it’s not a fiscal crisis (which is why we have to resort to “fiscal terrorism” of Alaska’s seniors to try to generate support for more taxes). In actuality, it’s a government crisis. But who among us is moved to action by hearing that state government has been spending more than our economy can sustain, and needs to cut back? What’s new?

Yep, that about sums up what is taking place in the capitol this year. The governor demanded more money from Alaskans last year (and more money to government), and he has now terrorized various groups of people (including seniors and vets and those who drive on KGB) into going along with it. The senate just passed a statewide tax that will take $5,000 from every family of four this year, and that’s just the PFD cut.

By convincing the legislature to redirect the dividend and the earnings of the Permanent Fund from Alaska’s private sector to state government, he has “solved the crisis” and is every bit the hero of the state public sector. And while the private sector now experiences the recession even more painfully than it otherwise would have, significant portions of state government get to celebrate that the crisis of downsizing has been averted yet again.

You ask me how this arrangement can continue? Well of course, it can’t, because there is only so much permanent fund money to go around and the appetite of government is limitless. Alaskans allowed their representatives in the State House to approve spending more than $4 Billion of the Permanent Fund

Earnings this year. Think about that. The straw has hardly been placed in the fund, and the vote was to suck out more than $4 billion in the very first swallow!

Talk about unsustainable!!!

Alaskans need to lay the smackdown and fight for a future in which we still have a permanent fund when my kids graduate high school.

Yes, as a resident of Alaska, you are a shareholder (whether you like it or not). If that makes you feel uncomfortably responsible…that’s probably a good thing. You and I each own shares in the future of Alaska, and in the Permanent Fund that has permitted Alaska’s economy to continue to be as “normal” as it is today. Without that Permanent Fund you would see a smaller state economy today, less support for local government, and an even smaller private sector. You would also see the state with a lower credit rating, higher taxes, less investment in Alaska on account of the higher taxes, and an Alaskan economy that looked a bit more like Puerto Rico’s (Note: That’s not a good thing).

You’re invested in this great state simply by living here, and a governor I know would love to take your shares in exchange for a short-term government subsidy. The existence of a “fiscal crisis” is the justification for those invested in state government to do what they’ve always wanted to do: crack the code on how to get Alaskans to redirect the Permanent Fund earnings to government and away from the private sector.

Amazingly, they’ve already convinced enough legislators to do this, in a time when Alaskans are having to lose their health insurance because they can no longer afford it. Oh, and they now tax you for that too! And while some Alaskans are trying to find the money to pay the tax for not having healthcare insurance, the State House of Representatives just voted to pass another $650 Million in new broad-based taxes on all Alaskans. Government crisis solved!!

Government isn’t shrinking in Alaska today. It’s just increasing its market share over the private sector.

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In Alaska, Anxiety Grows as Debate over Health Care Rages

Going without health insurance is a risk. Going without it in Alaska can be a gamble of a much higher order, for this is a place unlike anywhere else in the U.S., a land of pitiless cold, vast expanses and dangerous, back-breaking work such as pulling fishing nets from the water or hauling animal carcasses out of the woods.

And yet many people on the Last Frontier do not carry insurance. For them, the Affordable Care Act just isn’t working.

For reasons that have a lot to do with its sheer size, sparse population and harsh environment, Alaska has some of the highest health care costs in the nation; the most expensive insurance premiums, according to one key measure; and just one insurer in the whole state writing individual policies. (Read more from “In Alaska, Anxiety Grows as Debate over Health Care Rages” HERE)

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Poll: Joe Miller Dominates among 2018 Hopefuls for Alaska’s Governorship

Yesterday, we told you how some Democrats would do in their 2018 gubernatorial primary if it were held today. Today is the Republicans’ turn. Well, Republicans and Gov. Bill Walker.

But before we give you all the numbers, just as we did yesterday, we’ll tell you about the poll itself. The survey was conducted by Harstad Strategic Research, Inc. and sampled registered voters in Alaska between March 22 – April 2. You can see the sample breakdowns here:

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The poll asked voters who say they normally vote in GOP primaries who they would vote for if their choices for Governor were former Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, former candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Miller, former gubernatorial candidate John Binkley, current State Senators Mike Dunleavy and Peter Micciche, and current Governor Bill Walker.

Walker’s inclusion in the poll is interesting. We’ve told you in recent months that we believe if at least 3-4 candidates get in the GOP primary — Alaska GOP Vice-Chairman Rick Whitbeck has said on numerous occasions he has a list of about 50 names of people who could run — then Walker would likely have a path to victory if he jumped in.

The rest of model looks like a good mix of names. There are candidates from various areas of the state including Kenai, Mat-Su, Valdez, and Fairbanks, current legislators and those who can play the “outsider” card, and a blend of business conservatives, social and fiscal conservatives, and moderates. The pollster gave Republican voters options that varied in enough ways to see where they really stand.

Here is how numbers came out:

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Joe Miller dominates with 25% of the vote, with Walker coming in just behind him at 19%. The rest barely make a blip. That is likely because despite being well-known names in political circles most voters likely have never heard of them.

Now, here’s where things get really interesting. Look at what happens when respondents are asked their second choice, or who they would vote for if Miller or Walker (the top two picks) weren’t in the election.

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Interestingly, Joe Miller is Walker voters’ top second choice (19%), and in what will come as a shock to many, Walker is the second choice of a full quarter of Miller voters. It should come as no surprise, then, that when either Walker or Miller are taken out of the race, the other takes a commanding position. Miller gets 37% without Walker, three times his closest competitor, and Walker comes in with 25% without Miller, two and half times anyone else.

Finally, if Walker and Miller went head to head, Miller would start off 12 points ahead at 33% to 21%, with a hefty 46% undecided.

The conclusion has to be that if the GOP primary attracts more than one credible candidate other than Walker, the Governor would have a plausible path to victory if he chooses to go that route for reelection. The only Republican currently positioned to disrupt such a move is everyone’s favorite beard, Joe Miller. (For more from the author of “Poll: Joe Miller Dominates among 2018 Hopefuls for Alaska’s Governorship” please click HERE)

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Record Snowfall Buries Anchorage

It was a late March surprise for residents of Alaska’s largest city, the kind that snarls traffic and keeps kids at home for the day.

The National Weather Service said 8.8 inches (22.4 centimeters) of snow fell on Anchorage between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 1:30 p.m. Wednesday . . .

The latest snowfall on record of at least one-tenth of an inch is May 22, which occurred in 1964. (Read more from “Record Snowfall Buries Anchorage” HERE)

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Hearing Set on Bill to Legalize Doctor-Prescribed Suicide in Alaska

A hearing has been set for March 28 at 3 p.m. on a bill that aims to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in Alaska. House Bill 54, sponsored by Anchorage Democrat Rep. Harriet Drummond would permit doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients for the purpose of suicide.

The upcoming hearing will include “testimony by invitation only,” which means that testimony from the general public will be heard at a later date.

Bill sponsor, Drummond, is expected to give a general overview of the bill at the March 28 hearing in the House Health & Social Services Committee, after which, members of the committee can ask questions of the sponsor. Though verbal testimony from the public will not be heard until later, written testimony can be submitted at any time. Such comments are sometimes utilized by committee members in framing the issues when asking questions of the bill’s sponsor during the hearing.

In the case of HB 54, opponents of the practice include physicians and faith leaders who believe that patients with terminal illness need proper care, not destruction.

Alaska’s highest ranking Catholic prelate who leads 30,000 Catholics in Southcentral Alaska — Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne — has called doctor-prescribed suicide “a violation of principles of good medicine.”

Archbishop Etienne siad that, in the face of suffering health care should strive for the “elimination of as much suffering as we possibly can through moral practices that respect that dignity and sanctity of human life, but to help people to take their own life is a violation of principles of good medicine.”

The Alaska bill is part of a national push by an outside, multi-million-dollar operation called Compassion & Choices, formerly the Hemlock Society. To date, doctor-prescribed suicide — euphemistically called “medical aid in dying” and “death with dignity” — is legal in six states.

Many patient and disability advocacy organizations — such as Access Alaska — oppose doctor-prescribed suicide because it targets vulnerable citizens who need care but are pushed to die.

“When people with disabilities see themselves as a burden, without worth or dignity, as taught or experienced in society, the option for assisted suicide becomes more of an attractive option,” Doug White, executive director of Access Alaska told the Catholic Anchor. “We teach, advocate, support and foster the belief that all people have intrinsic value to themselves, their family and their community.”

Drummond has argued that doctor-prescribed suicide should be available to Alaskans with a “terminal” condition or who are expected to die within six months — though such predictions are notoriously unreliable and could include people with chronic illness or disabilities not receiving appropriate treatment — and who are “experiencing so much pain that their quality of life is completely degraded,” though the bill does not specify that a person must be in pain to request lethal drugs.

But pain is not among the top reasons for taking lethal drugs. According to the Oregon Health Authority’s “Death with Dignity Act Annual Reports,” in 2015, over 90 percent of patients cited “losing the ability to engage in activities making life enjoyable” and “losing autonomy,” and 48 percent cited being a “burden” on family, friends or caregivers.

Most victims are vulnerable elders. “It seems solitary, dependent and chronically ill seniors are prime candidates for assisted suicide in Oregon,” the U.S. bishops’ conference notes. Physical and psychological pain is treatable. According to a report by the National Institutes of Health: “…if all patients had access to careful assessment and optimal symptom control and supportive care, the suffering of most patients with life-threatening illnesses could be reduced sufficiently to eliminate their desire for hastened death.” (For more from the author of “Hearing Set on Bill to Legalize Doctor-Prescribed Suicide in Alaska” please click HERE)

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Abortion Activists Launch Email Campaign to Loosen Regulations in Alaska

Abortion rights backer ACLU of Alaska is praising a proposed change to Alaska law that would loosen abortion regulations across the state and allow for more widespread late term abortion.

In a March 21 email, the group’s Executive Director Joshua Decker said proposed changes by the Alaska State Medical Board are “an improvement and would make it easier for thousands of Alaskan women to access the reproductive healthcare they need.”

The move to change state regulations comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed in November by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, Alaska’s largest abortion chain. The lawsuit seeks to force Alaska to repeal certain regulations on second trimester abortions — those done after 13 weeks and six days.

In response, the State Medical Board issued proposed changes in February, which are now undergoing a public comment period that extends until March 24.

With only days left to file comments, the ACLU is pressing abortion supporters in Alaska to influence the State Medical Board by individually emailing a largely pre-written message to the board members.

Each email contains “required” text that states that “proposed changes to the State Medical Board’s current regulations on abortion care are a step in the right direction for Alaska.” It later states: “I appreciate the time and effort that went into updating the regulations because Alaskan women deserve better than the current restrictions placed on their access to a critical healthcare service.”

The proposed changes would eliminate the need for an abortion provider to get a second opinion from another doctor before performing a second trimester abortion. Additionally, abortionists would no longer be required to have access to an operating room equipped for major surgeries. Instead, abortions performed after a baby is viable would need to done in a hospital with neonatal care facilities. Abortionists also would no longer need to make a written record of a woman’s “physical and emotional” health prior to undergoing an abortion.

The Planned Parenthood lawsuit maintains that Alaska law overly burdens women seeking later-term abortions — procedures they claim are safe. Given that Planned Parenthood cannot comply with the current regulations, it is restricted from aborting babies after the second trimester. This leads to women to fly out of state to obtain late term abortions, they claim.

Planned Parenthood currently performs first-trimester surgical and chemical abortions at clinics in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Soldotna. Together these clinics account for more than 90 percent of the roughly 1,300 abortions performed annually in Alaska.

Despite Planned Parenthood’s claim that second trimester abortions are “performed safely in outpatient facilities,” numerous studies conclude that second trimester abortions account for a disproportionate amount of abortion-related morbidity and mortality and carry risks of infection, bleeding and damage to organs.

Abortions performed after 20 weeks, when not done by inducing premature labor, are most commonly performed by dilation and evacuation. These techniques involve crushing, dismemberment and removing a baby’s body from a woman’s uterus, even after the baby could potentially survive outside the mother. In some cases, late-term abortion involves a lethal injection into the unborn baby’s heart to ensure that the child is not pulled out alive or with the ability to survive.

The State Medical Board will take comments on its proposed changes until March 24. After the public comment period ends, the Board will either adopt the proposed regulation changes without further notice, or decide to take no action. The language of the final regulation may be different from that of the proposed regulation.

The State Medical Board consists of five physicians, one physician assistant, and two public members. Board members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature.

The board adopts regulations to carry out the laws governing the practice of medicine in Alaska.

Comments on the proposed regulations can be submitted in writing to Jun Maiquis, Regulations Specialist, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, P.O. Box 110806, Juneau, AK 99811-0806. Additionally, the board will accept comments by facsimile at (907) 465-2974 and by email at [email protected] Comments may also be submitted through the Alaska Online Public Notice System. Comments must be received not later than 5 p.m. on March 24.

In addition to submitting public comments, Alaskans may send in written questions about the proposals to Jun Maiquis, Regulations Specialist, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, P.O. Box 110806, Juneau, AK 99811-0806 or email [email protected] Questions must be received at least 10 days before the end of the public comment period. The board will aggregate its response to similar questions and make the questions and responses available online.

Comments on the proposed regulations can be submitted in writing to Jun Maiquis, Regulations Specialist, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, P.O. Box 110806, Juneau, AK 99811-0806. Additionally, the board will accept comments by facsimile at (907) 465-2974 and by email at [email protected]
Comments may also be submitted through the Alaska Online Public Notice System. Comments must be received not later than 5 p.m. on March 24.In addition to submitting public comments, Alaskans may send in written questions about the proposals to Jun Maiquis, Regulations Specialist, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, P.O. Box 110806, Juneau, AK 99811-0806 or email [email protected] Questions must be received at least 10 days before the end of the public comment period. The board will aggregate its response to similar questions and make the questions and responses available online. (For more from the author of “Abortion Activists Launch Email Campaign to Loosen Regulations in Alaska” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.