Sen. Coghill Needs a Doctor STAT!
John Coghill can’t seem to find credible doctors to attack Alaskan women’s reproductive health. Imagine that.
In a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, not a single doctor from Alaska was allowed to testify for or against a bill that would restrict access to safe and legal abortion for low-income women in our state.
Gems of wisdom from the out-of-state doctors that the bill’s sponsor Senator John Coghill chose to testify on SB49 include these debunked falsehoods:
“Abortion exacerbates existing mental health illness,” and “Women who have an abortion have an 81 percent increased risk for mental health problems.” –Dr. Priscilla Coleman, whose studies have been completely debunked.
“Short of massive hemorrhage or bleeding, abortion is always an elective procedure. I really can’t recall an episode of trauma where termination of pregnancy would have saved a mother’s life,” Dr. John Thorpe, University of North Carolina, who must not be aware the high rate of ectopic pregnancies in the U.S., which occurs at a rate of 19.7 percent per 1,000.
And finally, Dr Susan Rutherford of Washington, “There’s some compelling evidence” that abortion could be linked to breast cancer. “I disagree with the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute.” Studies debunking the link of breast cancer and abortion.
Doesn’t it make you feel great that our resources are being devoted to, and the legislature’s limited time is being spent on listening to complete falsehoods?
Said Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest Public Policy Director Jennifer M. Allen in a statement:
“Much of what we heard today has long been discredited by major medical associations such as the American Psychology Association, and would actually harm Alaskan women.
“The bottom-line is Alaskans know that a woman should have accurate information about all of her options. Information should support a woman, help her make a decision for herself and enable her to take care of her health and well-being.”
The Alaska State Supreme Court has said twice before that our Constitution protects the right to privacy, and therefore a low-income woman should be able to make her own pregnancy decisions without government intrusion.
Clearly, Senator Coghill (R-North Pole) missed his Alaska history lessons, all the more ironic since his father was one of the 55, who actually helped to write our Constitution. You can’t make this stuff up.
Senate Bill 49 seeks to restrict access to medicaid funding for abortion by narrowly defining what can be considered “medically necessary.” For some reason Coghill didn’t bring the bill to the Senate Health and Social Services Committee—a far more appropriate place for a medical bill, don’t ya think? Perhaps he’s trying to skirt around the Chair of that committee, Senator Bert Stedman, a holdover from the sanity of the bipartisan coalition days. Sanity in the senate? They’ll have none of that thank you very much. Remember those days not so long ago, when Coghill & Co. relegated themselves to a tiny powerless minority instead of playing well with others? Well, now the ill-behaved are in charge, and woe is us. Instead of bringing the bill to Health and Social Services, he just brought it to his own committee. Problem solved, Stedman avoided, and proper procedures of democracy be damned.
By leaving Alaskan women out of the testimony, out of the hearing, and out of the picture in his consideration of this bill, he is essentially recreating the all-male panel that got so much flack in Congress when the hearings on Obamacare’s contraception benefit began. Last time I checked, we actually still live in a democracy. Someone tell Senator Coghill. He thinks it’s much easier to hear from only one side and then go forth with his own agenda – especially when it involves restricting public funding for a Supreme Court-upheld, Constitutionally-protected legal medical procedure (see the rulings in 1997 and 2001).
Extreme opponents of women’s health like Dr. Patricia Coleman have been criticized nationally for spinning their “research” to meet their agenda. These doctors do not represent Alaska, and particularly low-income Alaska women, nor do they represent the truth. They are, as Planned Parenthood’s Allen also said, “placing politics before women’s health.”
Coghill told the Associated Press he would give women’s health advocates and the public a chance to testify next week, but nothing has actually been scheduled yet. I hope we can all show up in force and bring the real Alaska.
In the meantime, I encourage you to take action via Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest’s advocacy alert and tell the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose Senate Bill 49.