JUNEAU – On Tuesday, Governor Mike Dunleavy, Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink extended Health Mandate 5, which postpones and cancels non-urgent or elective procedures until June 15, 2020. The Administration also included an attachment listing which types of surgeries must be delayed based on the advice of the American College of Surgeons.
But Dunleavy’s Administration included a political provision—not endorsed by the American College of Surgeons—that ordered healthcare providers to postpone “…surgical abortion procedures unless the life or physical health of the mother is endangered by continuation of the pregnancy during the period of postponement.”
That same evening, Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) and Senator Jesse Kiehl (D-Juneau) wrote separately to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink expressing their disappointment the Administration politicized the COVID-19 public health crisis.
“I am disappointed. Pregnancy termination is clearly indicated as an activity where significant delay could cause significant harm. This is an attempt to foist an unconstitutional and political talking point into a medical pandemic,” Sen. Begich wrote. “It is inconsistent with good medical practice, and I believe you know that.”
Sen. Kiehl reminded the Chief Medical Officer she holds a public trust to act exclusively in Alaskans’ health interests, without regard to politics. “Tonight’s mandate violates my trust. It violates the trust of the Alaskans I represent,” he wrote, “You need to act immediately to restore Alaskans’ trust in you and the team you lead. The stakes for our state are too high for you to let this stand.”
Both Senators have called upon Dr. Anne Zink to retract this provision from Health Mandate 5.