In a recent vote that received little to no press coverage, four Alaska Republicans in the State Senate – including Senate President Gary Stevens and Majority Leader Cathy Giessel – joined all Democrats in voting to kill an amendment to the state operating budget bill that would have prohibited the state from using public money to pay for abortions.

Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) introduced the amendment, which sought to accomplished two things: allot $0.00 dollars for abortion related expenses in the State Medicaid Services budget, and bar the Department of Health and Social Services from transferring funds into that budget to then use for abortions.

The amendment was intended to provide enforceability to language lawmakers annually insert into the operating budget, which states that “no money appropriated in this appropriation may be expended for an abortion,” except in cases that endanger the life of the woman, or that result from rape or incest.

Pro-abortion lawmakers, as well as those who pay lip service to pro-life constituents, are fine with “intent” language, so long as it has no teeth…

The problem is that since 2001, the state has been under an Alaska Supreme Court order directing the Department of Health and Social Services to pay every abortion invoice submitted on behalf of a Medicaid recipient, regardless of what pro-life laws are passed or any restrictions the legislature places on abortion funding in the operating budget.

The annual pro-life “intent” language that lawmakers insert into the operating budget is simply ignored by the executive branch, because the courts have ordered abortion funding. The sitting governor faces a constitutional question. Should he follow the stated intent of the legislature – which controls the purse strings to government spending – and not pay for abortions, or acquiesce to the courts who demand that the state underwrite abortions in any and all situations?

Hughes’ amendment would have taken this quandary off the table, making it impossible for the state to pay for abortions, for there would be zero money allotted to do so, and no way to transfer funds from one budget into another for abortion funding. Similar efforts have been attempted regularly on the House side by Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla).

Pro-abortion lawmakers, as well as those who pay lip service to pro-life constituents, are fine with “intent” language, so long as it has no teeth, but Hughes amendment posed a real difficulty for lawmakers who publicly profess to be pro-life, but are unwilling to take decisive action.

“What is more important than life itself?” Sen. Hughes asked her colleagues. “We should vote to save the lives of vulnerable sweet babies whenever we can.”

Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) recognized that Hughes amendment would pose problems from pro-abortion advocates, and he immediately rose in opposition, claiming the amendment would result in an expensive lawsuit because it contradicts the Alaska Supreme Court’s opinion that abortion is a fundamental right under that state constitution’s privacy clause, a section that actually never even mentions abortion.

Likewise, self-proclaimed “pro-life” Sen. Cathy Geissel said she opposed Hughes’ amendment because she claims it’s difficult to interpret laws that ban abortion funding.

Geissel tried to both oppose the amendment and make the case that she’s pro-life because she donates to pro-life pregnancy centers, stating: “I’m a big supporter of the idea that an unborn child is a child. But actually taking concrete measures to cut off the financial pipeline to publicly funded abortions was a bridge too far for Giessel.

In defending her amendment, Hughes said she introduced it with hopes that it would spark a legal battle in the wake of the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down Roe v. Wade. Hughes said the federal Hyde Amendment already allows for the prohibition of taxpayer funds for abortion, and the legislature should back up its “intent language” with a budget that clearly bars the state from paying for abortions.

“What is more important than life itself?” she asked her colleagues. “We should vote to save the lives of vulnerable sweet babies whenever we can.”

The amendment failed on an 8-12 vote with Republicans Click Bishop of Fairbanks, Cathy Giessel of Anchorage, Bert Stedman of Sitka and Gary Stevens of Kodiak voting to thwart it.

Versions of the operating budget have now passed both the House and the Senate. Differences will be settled through conference committee meetings with designated negotiators from each body. Once again, however, Gov. Dunleavy will be faced with the decision of whether to abide by the Alaska Supreme Court ruling and continue funding abortions with the public’s money.

Many pro-life advocates have urged him to simply disregard the Supreme Court’s opinion, refuse to transfer funds for abortion, and stick with the Legislature’s annual intent language. Such a move would force the Legislature to either support the governor, or remove its symbolic intent language which has been ignored for decades.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Alaska GOP leaders help kill effort to strip public funding of 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.


  • Proud Alaskan says:

    First, Cathy Geissel is sooooo evil. One day she will stand before God on her lies to us an Alaska.
    Second, Shelley Hughes I wish there were more like her in Juneau
    Thirdly, Will Dunleavy stand Tall or crawl back under his rock. We’re all waiting Gov Dunleavy

  • Steve P Peterson says:

    “Click Bishop of Fairbanks, Cathy Giessel of Anchorage, Bert Stedman of Sitka and Gary Stevens of Kodiak”… what a bunch of slimy RINOS. Why do Republican voters keep voting them back into office? And why don’t they just come out as Democrats, which is effectively what they are?

  • John J Otness says:


  • Sharon says:

    Very sad. RInO’s!!

  • irk says:


  • Sister Bear says:

    This is an excellent analysis of a persistent problem that should be rectified.

    I hope someone sends it to Too Tall.

  • Jon and Ruth Ewig says:

    America is dying since we are not reproducing as fast as we are killing and mutilating and sterilizing. Because we kill our unborn babies America and and other states including Alaska are under a curse. The Rinos are liars. They lied from the start. Our problem as Republicans is the reality that we do not vet our Republican candidates. Also, although people are conservatives they do not engage in voting for candidates who share our worldview but rather the one who will give them more money. Any person can lie and say they are a Republican knowing that they are more likely to get into office that way. Click Bishop said he was a Republican but he has been union all the way. We should not vote for anyone endorsed by a union. The Republican party need to work on a better way to flush out the liars and not vote for them. Many of the senators are reprobates who lied their way into office. They have no conscience. They will not do good and need to be ousted, Bms who need to be kicked out. Pray we can vote for those godly leaders who tell the truth and can be trusted. May God richly bless Senator Hughes, Senator Robb Myers and Senaotor MIke Showers.

    • Mrs. M says:

      I totally agree with what you have written. We should not have to pay for a woman to kill/murder her unborn baby. Rinos are liars.

  • Toscano says:

    It does not need to be a “constitutional question” for the Governor, and he has been told this. But — surprise! — not by the legislative lawyers. NOWHERE in the state constitution does it say that “All court decisions must be enforced by the executive branch.” It DOES say that “The jurisdiction of the courts shall be prescribed by law.” Therefore, the state legislature and the Gov are both above the judiciary. Talking about a “constitutional crisis” is nonsense, because we already ARE in a crisis, and is it over the usurpation (overthrow) of the constitution by the judiciary. Because it has gone on for decades, it has the appearance of legitimacy. The weenies in the legislature and executive ALLOW them to — literally — get away with murder.

  • Johnny says:

    May 2nd was a national day of prayer, what happened lawmakers? You pray then codify abortion? What a disgusting display of statesmanship, so hypocritical. I have no doubts this state will feel the wrath of God, may God have mercy on us all and I pray you leaders can reverse this evil decision.

  • Carlene murphy says:

    Johnny. I’m confused about something. You simultaneously say god will bring down his wrath but ask for mercy. Aren’t you putting god in a contradictory position?

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Carlene, perhaps you are confused because it looks like you are thinking of the god of this world verses the God who created all things including your master.

      • Carlene murphy says:

        There are two gods?

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        Carlene, perhaps you should read the bible because you speaking as if you know what is told in the bible, but yet your questions indicate differently. BTW, the Creator of all creation is God Almighty. Any gods with a small g are not the Creator of all creation!

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    The day after the “ day of prayer “ ought to be the “ day of mockery “! There is a revolution coming that will reveal our asinine empty “sincerity’s!