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Anti-abortion rally protests Roe v. Wade

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Abortion foes held a rally on the steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Charles L. Westmoreland / Capital City Weekly
Charles L. Westmoreland / Capital City Weekly

About 100 people, including about a dozen lawmakers, attended the rally to denounce the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the country.

"I think that mistake will be reversed," said Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer. "They won't be able to reverse all the dead babies."

In 2005, the number of abortions in the U.S. was at its lowest level since the year after Roe. v. Wade, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based nonprofit that tracks abortion data.

That same year about 13 percent, or about 1,900 pregnancies in Alaska, ended in abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The national average was about 19 percent. Both numbers had dropped since 1991.

Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, told those outside the Capitol that the lower rates of abortion were "because of pro-life warriors like you." He then asked them to pray that judges and lawmakers have the strength to stop "the slaughter of innocents."

The Guttmacher Institute attributed the decline in abortions to more effective use of contraceptives, lower levels of unintended pregnancy and greater difficulty in obtaining abortions in some places.

Inside the Capitol, lawmakers will have plenty of opportunities to discuss abortions this session.

On Monday the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of House Bill 301, which would make it a felony to perform partial-birth abortions, a procedure recently outlawed by the federal government.

Also, Lynn and Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, are sponsoring a constitutional amendment designed to counter a state Supreme Court's decision last November allowing teenagers to have abortions without parental or judicial consent.

Coghill also is sponsoring House Bill 270, which would only allow abortions at hospitals or surgical centers.

Clover Simon, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Alaska, said lawmakers are misusing their time and energy this shortened session with those kinds of bills. She said if they wanted to limit abortions they should make sure Alaskans have adequate access to contraceptives and sexual education.

"We could go back and forth and argue all day long that abortion is right or wrong," Simon said.

She said she had not made up her mind on House Bill 329, sponsored by Rep. Mike Doogan, D-Anchorage. The bill would require parents of teenage girls 15 and younger be notified if their daughter was having an abortion.

Doogan said the bill wasn't anti-abortion, but was a "collision" between his libertarian tendencies and his role as a father.

"I don't think that minor girls should be making these kinds of medical decisions without their parents knowing about it," Doogan said.



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