Many Republicans in the Alaska State House, including some who claim to be “pro-life,” teamed up with pro-abortion Democrats to kill several pro-life amendments to a bill that would mandate that insurance providers cover a whole range of contraceptives, including drugs that can cause early abortions to newly conceived babies.

Supported by Planned Parenthood-backed Rep. Ashley Carrick (D-Fairbanks), House Bill 17 has pro-life advocates concerned that it will force insurers to cover contraceptives that can kill unborn babies at the earliest stages of development.

While Carrick claimed that her bill doesn’t cover “these types of drugs,” she was adamantly opposed to any amendments that would clearly prohibit them from her bill.

The longstanding dispute over whether some contraceptives can cause abortions, centers on a fundamental disagreement about when a pregnancy has begun. Pro-life advocates generally agree that life (and pregnancy) begins at the moment of conception. Pro-abortion activists, however, claim that “pregnancy” does not technically begin until the already-conceived and developing embryo implants in her mother’s uterus.

During a March 20-21 hearing of House Bill 17, Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) offered a slew of amendments to prevent healthcare insurers, including Medicaid, from being forced to cover the cost of certain contraceptive drugs that have been shown to cause early abortions.

Fully supported by the likes of Planned Parenthood and sponsored by ardent pro-abortion legislators, HB 17 is billed as a contraceptive bill that would reduce Alaska pregnancies by allowing for up to a 12-month supply of various forms of contraception.

Eastman’s first amendment sought to guarantee that health care insurers would not be forced to cover any “abortion inducing drug or a drug or device that has a mechanism of action that destroys the life of an early-developing human embryo.”

That amendment failed on an 18-22 vote, with Republican lawmakers Thomas Baker (Kotzebue), Craig Johnson (Anchorage), Kevin McCabe (Big Lake), and Louis Stutes (Kodiak) voting with the Democrats to defeat the change.

Next, Eastman offered an amendment stating that the proposed law may “not impose disciplinary sanctions on [a] licensee for refusing to fill a prescription contraceptive on moral or religious grounds.”

In a 13-27 vote, this amendment was killed as well. Republicans who joined all the Democrats in killing this provision included Representatives Baker, Julie Coulombe (Anchorage), Craig Johnson, Tom McKay (Anchorage), Mike Prax (North Pole), Justin Ruffridge (Soldotna), Dan Saddler (Eagle River), Stutes and Stanley Wright (Anchorage).

Yet another amendment sought to limit the definition of “prescription contraceptive” to drugs that do not “include a component that is intended to harm a developing embryo.” This would include drugs like Plan B, which intentionally prevent a newly conceived baby from attaching to the uterus.

Once again, Republicans Baker, McKay, Stutes and Wright joined the Democratic block to thwart Eastman’s amendment.

A fourth Eastman amendment attempted to bolster parental rights by including a provision that would make “coverage of prescription contraceptives contingent on notification of the primary insured before a minor is initially administered or dispensed prescription contraceptives.”

This, too, failed along a 12-28 vote with Republicans Baker, Cronk, Craig Johnson, McCabe, McKay, Prax, Ruffridge, Shaw, Stapp and Stutes voting to nix the amendment.

With regards to religious freedom, Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) was able to convince enough GOP lawmakers to support her amendment, which somewhat restricts how the state enforces the proposed contraceptive mandate.

Vance’s amendment states that when the government enforces the proposed law it must demonstrate a “compelling government interest,” and use the “least restrictive means of furthering that interest” before it can impose “burdens on a person’s religious practices.”

This amendment passed 22-18, with all Republicans voting in favor except for Stutes.

In the final vote on the bill, it passed out of the House with a 29-11 margin that included all Democrats, along with Republicans Baker, Cronk, Craig Johnson, McKay, Prax, Ruffridge, Shaw, Stutes, Sumner and Wright.

In order to become law, the bill must still clear the Senate and then be signed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.


— Click here to read the HB 17.

— Click here to contact members of the Alaska Senate.

— Click here to contact Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Group of Alaska Republicans help Dems kill pro-life amendments to contraception bill

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.


  • JH says:

    I sent you an email on February 29th with an affidavit and explanatory video. Check it out.

  • T.U. Kaluk says:

    My guess – they are voting against his amendments because they are Eastman amendments. Everyone votes against his amendments vitually every time. No one trusts that guy to do what is right for the unborn or Alaskans. He is not a Republican he is a populist

    • PatrickW says:

      You’re totally missing it. They don’t like him because he’s a steadfast defender of the preborn. As evidenced by his many amendments and numerous bills he’s filed to to protect/defend the preborn. The Swamp hates those who stand by their convictions. They can’t manipulate him.
      I recommend you stop drinking the swamp’s Kool-aid.

      • Matt Partaine says:

        but I see him all the time on KTOO meeting with and advising those liberal democrats against other republicans. He is my rep so I will be asking him why he votes with them all the time and why he is seen with them all gathered around him like he is their leader. I am kind of new to this but I have been watching on and off for a while. Is he going to flop and be a democrat? because it sure looks like it

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        I agree with PatrickW. I was shocked to see how nearly all of the Alaska Legislative House is turned against Rep Eastman – I did not realize that we had so many representatives that are willing to sell out their constituents. Frightening time for Alaska.

  • Truth Network says:

    It’s a bit ironic that a bunch of self-professed men get their panties in a bunch about this.

  • Steve P Peterson says:

    Ruffridge has deserted his Christian upbringing and chooses to support ungodly causes. He is power hungry.

    • DaveMaxwell says:

      Well Steve it’s no surprise that this is occurring, the churches themselves are abandoning their “upbringing “ and now are in a state of apostasy! They’ve evolved towards comfort!

  • DJC says:

    This is a contraception bill. Joel is totally wrong on this one. There is nothing about aborition. This is about getting insurance companies to cover women, for contraception THEY ALREADY GET, for more than three months. It has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. Rep Columbe is correct. If you are pro-life you should have voted for this bill. Hormone pills do not destroy life, they prevent pregnancy. Funding them for more than 3 months might prevent a pregnancy that would otherwise result in an abortion. Joel is wrong and Eastman is wrong

    • CD says:

      The Birth Control pill can cause death of a preborn. My friend asked her doctor and the doctor verified it. The pill has 3 functions. If the first two don’t work then it causes the fertilized egg or child (which this is where some say it is not human and others say it is human) to not attach to the uterus causing the child to die.

  • Jim says:

    > Next, Eastman offered an amendment stating that the proposed law may “not impose disciplinary sanctions on [a] licensee for refusing to fill a prescription contraceptive on moral or religious grounds.”

    Ya know, I don’t recall any disciplinary sanctions against pharmacists who refused to fill valid prescriptions for Ivermectin or HCQ… In fact, Ruffridge, who sat on the state board of pharmacy prior to winning a seat in the House, proudly refused to fill such prescriptions at his pharmacy in Soldotna.