With the U.S. Supreme Court on the cusp of overturning Roe v. Wade and thereby letting each state decide how to regulate abortion, three pro-life bills in the Alaska Legislature have taken on new importance.

Each one attempts to address a fundamental dispute regarding Article 1, Section 22 of the Alaska Constitution, which recognizes that the people have a right to “privacy.”

While Alaska’s Constitution affirms that the State Legislature has sole authority to “implement” this section, the Alaska Supreme Court has, nevertheless, liberally and consistently commandeered this privilege in order to construe the right to privacy as including a right to abortion on demand. With this interpretation in hand, the high court has, for decades, struck down every pro-life law enacted by the State Legislature and signed into law by various governors.

No Legislature or governor has effectively challenged or checked the court’s actions, but have essentially allowed judges to be the final arbitrators as to whether the State Constitution grants a right to abortion.

While lawmakers could, in theory, impeach judges who unlawfully usurp their right to interpret “privacy,” this has never been attempted. Likewise, no governor has dared ignore the court’s interpretation of “privacy” when it comes to abortion.

Sen. Shelley Hughes has introduced a constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 4, clarifying that there is no right to abortion in the constitution.

“To protect human life, nothing in this constitution may be construed to secure or protect a right to an abortion or require the State to fund an abortion,” the resolution states. Hughes’ bill has passed through several committees and currently sits in the Senate Finance Committee.

Likewise, Rep. Christopher Kurka has introduced House Bill 206, which reaffirms that the Legislature has sole authority to implement the constitutional provision regarding privacy – not the courts – and that this right does not include abortion.

With regard to implementing the right to privacy, Kurka’s bills states that the intentional killing an unborn child is not a protected right in Alaska. If the bill were to become law, Kurka has included language that forbids the courts from considering or reviewing its legality. Since being introduced last May, Kurka’s bill has seen no progress or any action in the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. David Eastman has also introduced legislation, House Bill 215, that deals with the privacy question. Eastman’s bill states that the drafters of the Alaska Constitution “never intended” that any section of the constitution would “recognize a right of a person to take the life of an innocent child.” The bill further notes that Alaska’s Constitution provides that “the jurisdiction of the courts shall be prescribed by law,” which gives lawmakers the right to check any court “that should attempt to arrogate powers to itself through judicial edict.” Like Kurka’s bill, Eastman’s states that the courts would not be allowed to review the law once implemented. Since being introduced last May, Eastman’s bill has also languished in the House Judiciary Committee.


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With Roe about to fall, pro-life bills languish in Alaska Legislature

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.