Inside scoop: Planned Parenthood’s 2020 strategy for Alaska

    Planned Parenthood, Alaska’s largest provider of abortions, held a strategic planning session on Jan. 7 in Anchorage. The event took place at Writer’s Block Café where a “We Support Planned Parenthood” sign stood in the window. About 30 people came, including Anchorage Rep. Andy Josephson, Anchorage School Board candidate James Smallwood and Alaska House candidate Janice Park who is running for Anchorage seat 25.

    Also on hand were several Alaska Watchman allies. Here’s what they learned about Planned Parenthood’s political goals for 2020.


    Planned Parenthood will push for Senate Bill 82 and House Bill 82 which would establish “sexual orientation, gender identity and expression” as protected classes under Alaska’s current nondiscrimination law. The legislation would require state agencies, private employers, schools and other nonprofit groups to legally recognize and accommodate the preferred “sexual orientation, gender identity and expression” of employees, customers, teachers, students and others regardless of their actual physical biology. It would also prohibit private business owners in Anchorage from refusing to hire employees because they openly live a homosexual and/or transgender lifestyle. The bill would also force service companies and rental organizations to promote, serve and facilitate causes and events which violate their moral beliefs in the area of sexuality.


    Planned Parenthood aims to introduce legislation that would mandate statewide sex education that aligns with the abortion businesses’ beliefs and values. Along these lines they stated their planned opposition to House Bill 7. This bill would require schools to teach an abstinence-based sex education curriculum which may not include instruction or advocacy of the intricacies of sexual intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior. It also prohibits schools from advocating for homosexuality, gender identity or expression, the use of contraceptives and sexual activity outside of wedlock.


    Rep. Andy Josephson is planning to introduce legislation to increase sentences for those who commit violent acts specifically against those who identify as LBGTQ. It is not clear what Rep. Josephson’s bill would entail, but laws that single out crimes against those who identify as LGBTQ are controversial because they are often used to silence or intimidate Christians and others who simply disagree with the sexual practices of those who identify as part of this group. While few would ever advocate violence against the LGBTQ community, critics of such laws say it is better to simply prosecute the actual crime.


    Of concern to Planned Parenthood was Rep. David Eastman’s HB 178 which would establish an outright ban on abortion in Alaska. They were particularly concerned about a section of the bill dealing with situations when a baby is born alive during an attempted abortion. Planned Parenthood representatives noted that in such cases the baby would become a ward of the state.


    Planned Parenthood will advocate for Rep. Matt Claman’s House Bill 21, which would mandate all health care insurers, including Medicaid services, provide 12 continuous months of coverage for prescription contraceptives including long-acting contraceptive devices and implants.


    With regards to the upcoming legislative session, Planned Parenthood is a big fan of the tripartite majority which led the Alaska House of Representatives last year. Many conservative and pro-life groups were frustrated that Republicans agreed to run the State House with a tripartite group which undercut many conservative issues.


    Planned Parenthood vowed to fight Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget in 2020. They expressed dismay at his veto of $334,700 from the Alaska court’s budget following his disagreement with the Alaska Supreme Court’s order that the state pay all Medicaid abortion invoices.


    At one point, the Planned Parenthood organizers bemoaned the fact that their candidate for Fairbanks Mayor – Katheryn Dodge – lost to incumbent Jim Matherly. Dodge outspent Matherly two to one and was openly endorsed by Planned Parenthood.


    On the national level, Planned Parenthood wants to roll back President Trump’s new rule regarding Title X funds. The rule bans abortion providers from accessing the federal money, while making the funds available to pro-life community pregnancy centers, which Planned Parenthood adamantly opposes. They are also worried about Trump’s ongoing conservative judicial nominations to the federal courts.

    Meeting organizers had kind words for Sen. Lisa Murkowski for meeting and working with them, and they encouraged activists to write letters to the editor, testify at public hearings on bills, make political activist videos and contact elected officials. Storytelling, they said, is key to moving legislators.


    Planned Parenthood is happy with Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and the makeup of the Anchorage Assembly, which they see as supportive of their goals. They noted, however, the need to fight for the six Anchorage Assembly seats that are up for election in 2020.

    Of additional concern are school board members, which organizers said are important because they decide what students learn in schools, and school board seats are often springboards to higher offices.

    The meeting ended with brief presentations by school board candidate James Smallwood and House candidate Janice Park – both of whom were grateful for Planned Parenthood’s support.

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