Politicians across the country are taking unprecedented, extreme and unpopular measures to limit access to safe and legal abortion, claiming that they know what’s best for pregnant people when it comes to their bodies. In just the past few months, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi and most recently Louisiana have banned abortion outright or made it nearly impossible to access. Alabama’s law goes so far as to punish physicians who perform abortions with up to 99 years in prison. In Georgia, people can be investigated after having a miscarriage.
What does this have to do with Alaska? Everything.
Right now we have a governor who compares Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan, a state House member who is leading the charge to strip away our most basic reproductive rights, and a U.S. senator who is in lockstep with an administration determined to attack our health, rights and freedoms.
Sen. Dan Sullivan is no different than the politicians in Alabama and Georgia, and at a time when Roe v. Wade is in serious jeopardy, we need a U.S. Senate that will protect reproductive rights. Sen. Sullivan has supported efforts to ban abortion at 20 weeks nationwide, voted to block Planned Parenthood from participating in safety net programs and to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and supported limits on provider access to critical Title X funding. Title X is the nation’s only program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care — and has contributed to our record low teen pregnancy and abortion rates.
Let’s be clear. This is not what the people of Alaska want. Alaska has long been a state that values our privacy — and that includes the right to have an abortion and access to birth control free of judgment or shame. Recently, hundreds showed up in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks and Soldotna, saying, “no, not here.” No abortion bans, no restrictions on reproductive health care, and no more legislators who continually fail to represent the people they serve.
Despite what we’re seeing across the country, the issue of reproductive health care is not a partisan one. Seven in ten Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. In Alaska, 63 percent of people surveyed last year supported upholding Roe v. Wade. The vast majority of Alaskans share a love for limited government intervention, for independence and autonomy, for family and for affordable, accessible health care.
Sen. Sullivan was sent to Washington, D.C., to represent Alaska — but he seems to be more of an ideologue than a representative. Not surprisingly, Alaskans don’t like what they’re seeing — a recent poll showed him in a dead heat in his 2020 Senate race — and an opponent hasn’t even filed yet. People in Alaska are paying attention, and you can bet we won’t stand by as legislators play politics with reproductive autonomy.
You wouldn’t know it based on the headlines, but women have made up the the majority of voters in every national election since 1964. It’s time for elected officials to start acting like it. In 2018, we helped women get elected to Congress with a record-breaking 127 women members.
If you think women won’t be the deciding voters again in 2019 and 2020, think again. It is time to show the 25 men in Alabama, the hundreds of anti-reproductive health legislators across the country and our elected officials here in Alaska that they can’t turn their back on abortion rights and expect to keep their jobs.
We will keep fighting back, we won’t back down and we will mobilize the thousands of people who are speaking out against these attacks like our lives depend on it — because they do.
Jessica Cler, Alaska State Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, lives in Anchorage.
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