A group of Alaskans seeking to abolish abortion are holding a conference in the lead up to the next session of the Alaska Legislature.
The Church Arise Alaska gathering will be a three-day event in Anchorage, Jan. 9-11. The first day entails prayer and outreach outside of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic on Lake Otis Parkway. The next two days consists of workshops and presentations from national and local pro-life advocates exploring strategies on how to end abortion in Alaska.
Front and center during the conference will be Rep. David Eastman’s House Bill 178, known as the Alaska Life at Conception Act. Organizers hope to highlight the legislation and build momentum for it in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 21.
The Life at Conception Act would establish that all persons from the moment of conception have a natural right to life, and are entitled to equal protection under the law. The legislation would outlaw abortion, including in cases of rape and incest, but does not criminalize situations where efforts to save a mother’s life result in the unintended death of a baby.
Critics of outright abortion bans include some among the pro-life movement who believe demanding too much too soon would create a backlash. There is also fear that the U.S. Supreme Court would strike down abortion bans and deliver a setback to the pro-life movement. Many in this camp hold that an incremental strategy is more effective with the ultimate goal of eventually ending abortion.
In 2019, National Right to Life opposed state legislation in Tennessee to ban all abortions from the moment of conception. National Right to Life Committee general counsel James Bopp spoke against the bill, expressing concern that judges have an obligation to follow Supreme Court precedent. Until the high court overturns Roe v. Wade, outright abortion bans are “foolish,” he said.
We hope to generate conversation in the press where Christians have an opportunity to defend life from the moment of conception,” said organizer Zimmerman
While no state has successfully enacted and applied an abortion ban from the moment of conception, organizers for the upcoming Church Arise Alaska conference believe that laws directly challenging Roe v. Wade are needed, even if their passage is a long shot. Similar efforts have taken place in Idaho, Ohio, Texas and Oklahoma.
“In addition to calling on our legislature to immediately end human abortion, we hope to generate conversation in the press where Christians have an opportunity to defend life from the moment of conception,” said organizer Tait Zimmerman, who serves as pastor at Valley Fellowship in Wasilla. “Whether this bill passes or not, it is opening up the conversation on this issue. There is a teaching aspect to good legislation.”
The goal is to get the word out that there is a very good bill on the table, and pro-life legislators should get behind it, Zimmerman said.
To this end Church Arise Alaska is bringing up speakers from national organizations like Operation Rescue/Operation Save America and Free The States. Both groups are strong supporters of abortion bans challenging Roe v. Wade. Rep. Eastman is also scheduled to speak on his proposed legislation.
Other presenters will address issues facing post-abortive women, forgiveness for abortion, the history of legalized abortion, and the rightful role of churches in political debates. The conference is open to all Alaskans including legislators and public officials who wish to learn more about how an abortion ban would impact Alaska law and public policy.
“The goal is to get the word out that there is a very good bill on the table, and pro-life legislators should get behind it,” Zimmerman said.
The conference takes place in Anchorage at Jewell Lake Community Church of the Nazarene. For more information or to register, click here.