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We should be working hard on the budget, not playing games with voter emotions over abortion. While many of us are trying to work to find consensus on solving a nearly $3 billion budget gap, one of our colleagues unthoughtfully started an ugly battle on a woman’s right to choose this week. Here’s what I said when asked about it during a press conference on Tuesday. I used softer words than I wanted to.
The representative went, in my view, over the top by sponsoring a harsh anti-abortion amendment, which he then tacked onto a non-controversial bill raising awareness about Alaska’s terrible rates of child abuse and sexual assault. That was wrong. It turned a bi-partisan bill into a political tool for division and election politics. I respect the other committee members who asked him not to create this controversy, and asked him not to introduce the amendment they told him would politicize this bill. He insisted on putting politics ahead of policy.
The Wasilla legislator then went further over the line. He claimed to a reporter that women “try to get pregnant in this state so that they can get a free trip to the city.” I try not to use harsh words. That comment was both offensive and false. I don’t know whether my Wasilla colleague innocently doesn’t know any better, or truly has views I would consider divisively anti-rural. I will try to assume terribly misinformed innocence on his part. New York Times Article – Alaska Lawmakers Mull Measure Calling Abortion ‘Child Abuse’
Still, regardless of the representative’s motivations and views, they were damaging insults, intended or not, to the children and women the original bill aims to protect. And they insulted rural Alaskan women who face difficult private decisions.
Ok, I’m going back to work now. But I needed to say this – as I did at Tuesday’s press conference- because women who face difficult personal decisions need to know they are not being judged. I want to let them know that, and I hope you will too.
Life is full of enough difficulty. Legislators don’t need to make the difficulties our neighbors face even worse.
It’s time to move back to important work, and to stop playing games on emotional issues. I am going to keep working to solve our budget deficit, to keep working for a fair revenue plan, and to reverse major proposed budget cuts to public education, abused and neglected children, seniors, and those who live with disabilities.
Here’s a link to my last newsletter on that subject!