Five GOP lawmakers in the Alaska State House, some of whom claim to be pro-life, joined Democrats to kill an amendment to the state budget that sought to prohibit Alaska from using state funds to underwrite abortions.

Proposed on April 3 by Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) the amendment would have specifically barred the state from using State Medicaid funds to pay for the killing of unborn babies.

GOP Representatives Jesse Sumner (Wasilla), Dan Saddler (Eagle River), Mike Prax (North Pole), Justin Ruffridge (Soldotna) and Louise Stutes (Kodiak) all voted with Democrats to table and effectively kill the amendment. The final vote was 23-17.

The Watchman reached out to each of the GOP lawmakers who voted against the pro-life amendment. Apart from legislative aid Barbara Haney, who works for Rep. Prax, none of the other offices responded.

Rep. David Eastman

In explaining Prax’s vote against the amendment, Haney said the proposal would likely have been deleted from the budget by the Democratic controlled State Senate. Once the pro-life wording was struck, and the budget sent back to the House, Haney claimed Eastman would have used that as rationale to vote against the final budget. That would force the budget bill to go into Conference Committee where many other items could be changed, including the PFD allotment, she said. Haney described Eastman’s amendment as ineffective “gamesmanship,” which would not save any unborn lives.

Eastman has a different take, and believes the amendment provides both the “legal and political support” for Gov. Mike Dunleavy to finally end state funded abortions. Last year, the state paid for at least 546 abortions, not including those who were flown out of state to procure late-term abortions in Lower-48 facilities.

While the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that the state must spend part of its Medicaid funds to underwrite abortions, the Legislature has constitutional authority over the purse strings. Eastman’s amendment would have prohibited the state from transferring any money into the Medicaid account reserved for abortions, thereby making it impossible to comply with the Supreme Courts’ opinion.

Eastman noted that his amendment would have given Gov. Mike Dunleavy “an actual valid message from the Legislature saying, ‘We don’t want you to spend this money.’”

In introducing the proposal on the House floor, Eastman was not given an opportunity to explain or discuss it, prior to the vote.

Rep. CJ McCormick, a Planned Parenthood endorsed Democrat from Bethel, immediately challenged Eastman’s amendment and moved to table it with the backing of five Republicans.

“They did not want to be on record taking a position,” he said, of GOP lawmakers who voted to table the amendment. “They just tried to kill it outright without even allowing me the opportunity to explain it.”

Eastman expressed frustration with GOP lawmakers who claim to be pro-life, but then fail to enact legislation with any real teeth.

As of April 6, the House was continuing to debate and amend its version of the state budget.


Joining McCormick to kill Eastman’s amendment were Representatives Jennie Armstrong (D-Anchorage), Ashley Carrick (D-Anchorage), Maxine Dibert (D-Fairbanks), Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham), Zack Fields (D-Anchorage), Neal Foster (D-Nome), Alyse Galvin D-Anchorage), Andrew Gray (D-Anchorage), Cliff Groh (D-Anchorage), Sara Hannan (D-Juneau), Rebecca Himschoot (NA-Sitka), Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), Donna Mears (D-Anchorage), Genevieve Mina (D-Anchorage), Dan Ortiz (NA-Ketchikan), Mike Prax (R-North Pole), Justin Ruffridge (R-Soldotna), Dan Saddler (R-Eagle River), Calvin Schrage (NA-Anchorage), Andi Story (D-Juneau), Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) and Jesse Sumner (R-Wasilla).

Those voting for the amendment, and against McCormick’s motion to table it, were Representatives Jamie Allard, Ben Carpenter, Julie Coulombe (R-Anchorage), Mike Cronk (R-Tok), David Eastman (R-Wasilla), Craig Johnson (R-Anchorage), DeLena Johnson (R-Palmer), Kevin McCabe (R-Big Lake), Tom McKay (R-Anchorage), Josiah Patkotak (NA-Barrow), George Rauscher (R-Sutton), Laddie Shaw (R-Anchorage), Will Stapp (R-Fairbanks), Cathy Tilton (R-Wasilla), Frank Tomaszewski (R-Fairbanks, Sarah Vance (R-Homer) and Stanley Wright (R-Anchorage).

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5 Alaska House Republicans oppose amendment to stop state-funded abortions

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.