Opinions

OPINION: We will uphold women’s constitutional reproductive rights

Walker-Drygas

At a time when everything seems uncertain, we wish to speak in plain terms about our position on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. We are running to rebuild Alaska, not to take away reproductive rights.

While Bill is personally pro-life and Heidi is pro-choice, the Walker-Drygas administration is committed to protecting women’s reproductive rights. We can do so while reducing the need for abortions and improving the lives of children and families.

Specifically, we will defend women’s rights to make their own reproductive choices in Alaska by opposing and, if necessary, vetoing any legislation that abridges reproductive rights. We will uphold those rights — guaranteed in the Alaska Constitution’s privacy clause — and oppose any amendment to the Alaska Constitution that would reduce individual rights. We also oppose a constitutional convention for this and many other reasons.

We believe the best approach is to make the need for abortions rare. The most effective way to do this is by creating conditions that support the health and well-being of women and families. Our track record is clear.

Bill Walker took the bold step in 2015 of expanding Medicaid through executive action. He did this after legislative inaction because it was the right thing to do. In the years since, 70,000 more Alaskans have obtained healthcare coverage while at the same time the state has actually saved millions in costs picked up by the federal government. Medicaid expansion has saved lives and enabled thousands of Alaskans to get back to work because they could get treatment for otherwise disabling conditions.

Access to health care through Medicaid expansion also reduced abortions in Alaska by 14%. We will act aggressively to further reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies in Alaska by: (1) expanding education and family planning services; (2) expanding public safety resources to reduce sexual assault against women and children; (3) passing legislation requiring that birth control pills be made available 12 months at a time (barring contraindications); and (4) making birth control more accessible and affordable.

One of the biggest considerations women and families account for when deciding to have a child is whether they will have the support and resources they need after their child is born. We will explore what paid family-leave policies in Alaska could look like and consider incentives for the private industry to provide that benefit.

We will expand funding for foster care and adoption services. We commit to expanding access to childcare and pre-K to meet 100% of the need and encourage employers to expand paid parental and adoption-related leave. The Dunleavy administration limits Medicaid coverage to two months of postnatal care. We understand the benefits Medicaid expansion brought to Alaska, and our administration will offer 12 months of coverage, largely funded by the federal government. Further, we will prohibit workplace discrimination based on pregnancy status.

This approach is a core part of our vision for rebuilding Alaska. Rebuilding Alaska requires that we value the people who power our economies and our communities. It involves creating job and career opportunities for parents and ensuring access to secure, affordable housing and childcare.

We understand that our personal positions on reproductive rights will not be perfect for everyone. We ask that you consider our dedication to upholding our Constitutional privacy rights and our proven commitment to protecting families and creating opportunities for upward mobility. Doing more to help women and children results in fewer abortions. By contrast, research indicates strict abortion bans do not reduce abortion rates. Instead, abortions become more dangerous and deadly for women.

Whether or not you believe our views perfectly align with your own, we are committed to hearing from you and will not shy away from difficult but important discussions on this and other issues. Our ticket is the only one that can defeat Mike Dunleavy and prevent four more years of attacks on all Alaskans’ rights. We are committed to protecting and defending Alaskans’ Constitutional right to privacy, and we will work to bring back civil discourse, empathy and respect among all Alaskans.

Bill Walker served as the eleventh governor of Alaska and is running for that position again this fall alongside lieutenant governor candidate Heidi Drygas, who was Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. Bill and Heidi are independents.

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