Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004

State abortion Web site delayed

ANCHORAGE - The state's informed-consent abortion Web site, required by legislation passed in May, won't be ready when the bill is enacted today.

Senate Bill 30 requires doctors to inform women seeking abortions about risks and alternatives to the procedure. It calls for an official state Web site to offer comprehensive information about abortion, adoption, contraception, fetal development and related topics.

The Web site won't be ready by today's deadline, said Dr. Richard Mandsager, the state's public health director.

The chairman of the state medical board said the board had no knowledge of the bill or that it was supposed to help create the site.

The board must appoint obstetrical and gynecological specialists to review and approve the Web material for medical accuracy, according to the bill.

Leslie Gallant, the medical board's executive administrator, said she first heard about the board's responsibility in a Sept. 13 letter from Joel Gilbertson, state health commissioner.

Mandsager said it may take months for the board to find and appoint doctors and for the site to go online.

The legislation created a professional and political stir. Sixteen obstetrician gynecologists said in a Sept. 27 letter to a number of state boards and departments that they think the legislation is medically and legally unjustified and that informed consent for patients is already required by state law.

The doctors said the new requirements "perniciously encroach on the practice of all medicine and sets dangerous precedent."

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, said in a newspaper column Sept. 24 that negative reaction to the bill was overblown and misdirected, that it was a "tempest in a chamber pot."

The column, co-signed by Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, R-Eagle River, said Alaska has for decades required the patient be advised of the medical and emotional implications of abortion.

Man shoots charging bear near Tee Harbor

JUNEAU - A man shot and killed a black bear early Saturday near Tee Harbor, police said.

The man, 30, said the bear had charged him, police said.

Neil Barten, the Juneau-area wildlife biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game, said the bear was lying dead about 20 feet from the front porch of a house on Point Stephens Road when he arrived after 1 a.m.

He estimated the bear was about 15 years old.

"The little cub was lying on top of it," he said. "That's what they do. They want to stay with their ma."

Barten tranquilized the cub with a dart and took it in a trap to the subport, where it has food and water. Biologists will decide what to do with it Monday morning, Barten said.

It was a bad-luck bear family.

The mother bear had entered the house on Point Stephens Road on the night of Oct. 18 when no one was home and eaten out of the garbage, Barten said. He set two traps for it then.

About five weeks ago the same mother bear, with two female cubs, was getting into garbage near Trafalgar Avenue in the Thunder Mountain area. At that time, Barten attached a global positioning system to the mother and transported her and the cubs to nearly the end of the road out of town.

It took the bears three weeks to find their way to the Montana Creek area. One of the cubs was struck and killed by a car Oct. 15 on nearby Steelhead Street, Barten said.

Among the options for the remaining cub are to be euthanized, sent to a zoo or moved to a human-selected den such as under trees that have blown down.

The cub was born last winter, Barten said, and would have been sent away by the mother after another winter.

At this time of year, "they're fatter than heck and ready to go to bed, and in spring ma kicks them out anyway," he said.

Council envisions sports complex at landfill

KENAI - Where Kenai residents see a former landfill, city officials envision a vast sports complex.

The City Council passed an ordinance last week as a first step in turning the large field into baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a BMX bicycle track and a skateboard park.

The city has sought a suitable use for the land for several years, and plans for the area are still in the preliminary stages.

But with the passage of the ordinance, which determined the site is needed to serve a public purpose, the city can now begin doing design work and make plans for how to best use the land.

The city's parks and recreation commission already has signed off on the plan to use the land for a recreational complex. A preliminary drawing shows nine soccer fields, seven baseball diamonds, three parking lots, a dirt bicycle track and a skateboard park.



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