In Alaska’s State Legislature this session, lawmakers face myriad bills of concern to Alaskan Catholics. Following is an update on several bills moving through the legislative process, including dates of upcoming hearings.
For more information and to contact your legislators, go to akleg.gov or call 800-478-4648. To follow Catholic Anchor reports, including news on public testimonies and bill hearings, go online to CatholicAnchor.org.
The current legislative session runs Jan. 20-April 19.
FORCING INSURERS TO COVER ABORTIFACIENT CONTRACEPTIVES
Senate Bill 156 would force health care insurers operating in the state to provide coverage for the “full range” of prescription and over-the-counter contraceptives, sterilizations and contraceptive-focused exams, “procedures and medical services.” Health care insurers would be forced to cover the contraceptive Pill, so-called “emergency contraception” and IUDs (inserted in outpatient procedures) — all of which can cause early abortions of living human embryos.
Sponsor: Sen. Berta Gardner
Status: The bill was introduced during the current session and referred to Committees on Health & Social Services and Labor & Commerce. The next hearing will be teleconferenced and is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 1:30 p.m. before the Health & Social Services Committee.
FAITH-BASED HEALTH CARE OPTIONS
Senate Bill 18 would exempt religious-based health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) from being regulated as health insurance in Alaska. A distinctive and attractive aspect of HCSMs for many Catholics and non-Catholic Christians alike is that HCSMs are not subject to federal or state contraceptive or abortion mandates.
Sponsor: Sen. John Coghill
Status: The bill was introduced last year and referred to Committees on Health & Social Services and Labor & Commerce. Passed out of the HSS Committee last year and moved out of L&C during the current session.
PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION
Senate Bill 89 seeks to ensure a parent has the right to direct the education of his or her public school child, including the right to object to and withdraw the child from state-mandated tests, and from activities or classes on sexual matters which parents find objectionable. The bill also would prohibit public schools from administering student questionnaires that inquire into personal or private family affairs of the student. And the bill would prevent school districts from contracting with an abortion services provider for course materials or to provide instruction relating to human sexuality. According to the Catholic Catechism, “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.”
Sponsors: Sens. Mike Dunleavy, Cathy Giessel, Charlie Huggins, Bill Stoltze, Pete Kelly, Anna MacKinnon, John Coghill, Kevin Meyer
Status: The bill was introduced last year and referred to Committees on Education, State Affairs and Rules. It then moved out of Education and State Affairs, and is scheduled for a teleconferenced Rules Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 8 a.m.