Hundreds rally against House anti-abortion bill in Anchorage Saturday

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Update 9:00 p.m.:

Hundreds rallied against House Bill 178, which would outlaw abortions in Alaska, at Town Square Park in Downtown Anchorage on Saturday.

HB 178 is just one of a handful of efforts across the United States in 2019 to limit access to the controversial procedure. Alabama passed legislation on Tuesday making abortion and attempted abortion felony offenses, except in cases where it's necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother.

Legislators in Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi also passed laws banning abortion procedures after around 6 weeks into pregnancy, according to CNN.

House Representatives Sharon Jackson, R - Eagle River, and David Eastman, R - Wasilla, listed HB 178 on Wednesday. The bill would amend the Constitution of the State of Alaska to make the "murder of an unborn child" a crime punishable by 30 to 99 years in prison.

Ralliers in Anchorage on Saturday, lead by organizations like Planned Parenthood Votes and Alaska ACLU, made it clear they do not want to join this recent wave of legislative efforts curbing women's ability to undergo an abortion.

"Representative David Eastman, worry about your own body, and your own choices," a commentator said to uproarious applause from hundreds of sign-toting ralliers — many of whom shared their own personal stories of undergoing the procedure.

Angela Jenkins, for example, said it’s often in the mother’s best interest to abort. In her case, she didn’t want her child to grow up around an abusive relationship.

"I got pregnant with my daughter when I was 20 years old," Jenkins said. She kept the first girl, but said she couldn’t bring herself to do the same when she got pregnant a second time. “I found myself in an abusive relationship. I faced a difficult decision, but what I decided was best for me and my child was to get an abortion. I couldn't imagine raising two children -- alone, or with this man."

Jessica Cler, State Director for Planned Parenthood Votes, said they intend to fight HB 178 through to the end.

"Planned Parenthood and hundreds of organizations across the country are fighting for reproductive rights and helping fund abortion," Cler said. "We will never back down. We will never stop fighting. And we will never accept the unconstitutional attempts to block access."

Rep. Eastman responded to concerns raised at Saturday's rally.

"I'm encouraged to see the discussion that has begun since the bill was filed," Eastman said. “This is a conversation that our state has been desperately needing to have for many years. At another time in our nation’s history there were large rallies and some even moved their entire families in an effort to keep slavery free and legal. Today’s rallies for the 'choice' to do what you want to those waiting to be born are no less inhumane. I stand with a child’s right to live."

After first reading, HB 178 was referred to the Health & Social Services, Judiciary, and Finance Committees. Since the bill was filed on the last day of session, it will not be addressed until next session because of the limited agenda rules of a special session.

Original Story

Hundreds rallied against House Bill 178, which would outlaw abortions in Alaska, at Town Square Park in Downtown Anchorage on Saturday.

HB 178, sponsored by House Representatives Sharon Jackson, R - Eagle River, and David Eastman, R - Wasilla, would amend the Constitution of the State of Alaska to make the "murder of an unborn child" a crime punishable by 30 to 99 years in prison.

According to the bill's language a "child" would be considered a person, who under state law could not be deprived of life without due process of law, at the moment of conception.

Channel 2 has reached out to Rep.’s Eastman and Jackson for comment. This is a developing story.

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