JUNEAU, ak — A legislator in Alaska who introduced a bill to criminalize abortion as murder last spring said he and any legislator who supports the bill have faced censure and threats of punishment for seeking to afford equal protection to all Alaska citizens.
Rep. David Eastman (R – Wasilla) introduced HB 250 and its companion HB 251 in May 2017. According to Eastman, the state laws are not in line with the state constitution, and he is merely seeking to bring them back into alignment.
“This is what rights are going to look like when we get laws in line with the Constitution,” he said. He added that pro-life attempts of the past have been neither morally nor philosophically sound. “With [HB 250], we’ve attempted to paint a picture and describe what the law should actually say,” he said.
HB 250 is the first bill ever introduced in Alaska that would treat the killing of preborn children as murder. According to Eastman, the state has very few restrictions on abortion, other than regulations such as one requiring that “on the off chance someone survives an abortion, you can get them to the NICU.”
Eastman said the most significant pro-life legislation prior to his bill was Senate Bill 49, introduced in 2014. SB 49 was an attempt by the legislature to “limit the kinds of situations that the state would pay for abortions to only about 20 or so different things,” he said. Asked if it would have had any impact, Eastman answered, “No! It left it up to the discretion of the abortion doctor to decide when to apply it.”
Eastman was labeled a “Dirty Rotten Sexist Scoundrel” by NARAL for authoring HB 250, but what some may find more surprising is the equally negative reception the bill has received from Eastman’s colleagues in the legislature, including those who call themselves pro-life.
“Every other legislator hates it,” he said. “They threatened me when I was going to put it forward. They made it clear that anyone who supports any of my bills going forward will get punished, and their bills will be killed.” Eastman said the last time he tried to talk about it on the House floor he was censured.
“I’d say our courts hate it, our governor would veto it, and our legislators don’t want to be associated with it, but other than that it will pass,” he joked.
So why put it forward at all?
“You have clear rights that all Alaskans have, and current laws kind of acknowledge that but create exceptions for abortions for if the mother says its okay,” Eastman said. “What [HB 250] does is remove those exceptions and ensure that those who are born and those who are preborn have the same rights.”
“We need to give legislators the opportunity to let their constituents know where they stand on this,” he explained, adding that even if the bill fails he will continue to put it forward again and again because it’s the right thing to do.