This could well be a public hearing like few others in Alaska. Three distinct sides of the abortion debate will be featured April 16 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

At issue is Senate Joint Resolution 4, sponsored by Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer/Chugiak), which aims to clarify that Alaska’s Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion or abortion funding.

On one side of the debate will be Hughes and her supporters who are frustrated by the fact that the Alaska Supreme Court has struck down virtually every pro-life law ever passed by the Legislature and signed by various governors. Hughes measure aims to keep Alaska judges from using the State Constitution as justification for striking down pro-life laws. In order to become law, SJR 4 would need to pass both the Senate and House and then go to a popular vote of the people to amend the State Constitution.

Other pro-life Alaskans disagree with Hughes’ approach and argue there are easier ways, other than a constitutional amendment, for the Legislature to address judges that misconstrue and twist the Constitution to justify rulings against pro-life laws. This side argues that the Legislature should impeach judges who overstep their rightful limits. They also point out that the Legislature has the authority to include a clause in every pro-life law, which simply states that the judiciary cannot review certain pro-life laws in court. Another strategy is for the legislative and executive branches to ignore unconstitutional rulings from the judicial branch. The judicial branch cannot, after all, enforce its opinions. That task is constitutionally delegated to the executive.

A third view, to be on display April 16, is that of the pro-abortion side. Planned Parenthood is marshaling supporters to speak out against SJR 4, claiming that Alaskans have a “constitutional right to an abortion.” An April 15 alert from Jess Cler, the Alaska director of Planned Parenthood, claims that “abortion care is a basic human right.”

While both sides of the pro-life debate would adamantly disagree with Cler’s assertion, they remain at odds as to how to best go about defending unborn life in Alaska.


  • The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on SJR 4 begins at 1:30 p.m. on April 16.
  • Click here to watch the hearing.
  • To testify by phone during the hearing, call (907) 586-9085 or (907) 563-9085 five minutes before the hearing and ask to be redirected to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Email testimonies can be sent to Judiciary Committee members at

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Three distinct sides to weigh in on Alaska legislation aimed at abortion

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Judith Ritenburgh says:

    Why can’t the people pushing their religious beliefs into the government policies, just respect our constitutional rights of separation of church and state! Problem solved! My religion supports a families right to make their own decisions based on each families individual needs! I do not think that my neighbor has the right to decide my individual life style or to manipulate our constitutional freedoms to fit their religion! I am 100% against abortions for me and my family, but that does not mean I can force others to agree with me!

    • EscapedAnchorage says:

      What do you think marriage is? It’s a religious belief that the government decided was their decision to make.

      This is not a matter of “forcing” people to agree or disagree, it’s our TAX DOLLARS paying for an elective medical procedure. Do you want to start paying for people’s liposuction or botox with your tax dollars? I sure don’t. Tax dollars should be spent on fixing roads, bridges, snow plowing and general public safety, not elective medical procedures. We should support the state cutting the budget on poorly spent tax dollars. People who want to support charities should do so on their own free will, not expect the government to allocate their tax dollars for them. Tax dollars funding charities skews the very idea of being a charity and makes it a government body. The governor shouldn’t have been stopped by the courts from doing his job, which is balancing the budget. I think our legislation enshrining this into law prevents the courts from interfering with budgeting practices. Maybe people will start donating to their favored charities again and those charities who only lived on the government teet will wither because it wasn’t a good idea in the first place.

    • MICHAEL HUGHES says:

      Forgive me if I am wrong, but you sound like you are a good Christian. Christ would NEVER have allowed allowed killing a baby in, what is supposed to be, the safest place in the world; it’s mother’s womb. Doing so goes against the fifth commandment, from God; thou shalt not kill.

    • Jeriah Knox says:

      Leviticus 20:2-5 (KJV) Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
      And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
      And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:
      Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    Ok wear your mask too, is that being forced on us too.
    Just stop the killing of innocent babies yes there Alive. Where’s there choice to live.
    Stop this madness and yes stop spending my tax dollars on this horrific act.

    • MICHAEL HUGHES says:

      I have seen more and more people in stores not wearing masks. So I have stopped doing so, unless they won’t let me in. Try doing so at Freddy’s and Carrs; no one said a word ;-). Time for us to make OUR choices, not let the government dictate to us.