An Alaska state lawmaker worries Medicaid funding for health care will encourage women to seek abortions for a free trip to the big city.
State Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) claims anecdotal evidence that women were glad to become pregnant so the federal government would pay for them to visit Anchorage or Seattle to get an abortion, reported Alaska Public Media.
“We’ve created an incentive structure where people are now incentivized to carry their pregnancy longer than they would otherwise and then take part in that when they wouldn’t otherwise be doing it,” Eastman said.
The first-term lawmaker was asked to provide evidence, and he claimed he “certainly knows of specific instances” but declined to provide additional details.
“You have individuals who are in villages and are glad to be pregnant, so that they can have an abortion because there’s a free trip to Anchorage involved,” Eastman told the Associated Press.
Eastman said his constituents from the Wasilla area, where Sarah Palin lives, wanted to eliminate Medicaid funding for abortion.
The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that the state must fund medically necessary abortions, although a legislative definition of those has been ruled unconstitutional by a superior court judge and an appeal by the state is pending.
Eastman successfully added an anti-abortion message to an unrelated a resolution to proclaim next April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.
His amendment describes abortion as “the ultimate form of child abuse.”
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands dismissed Eastman’s claims as “ludicrous and despicable.”
“The process for a woman to get to Seattle to access reproductive health care – a full range of reproductive health care – is incredibly challenging,” said spokeswoman Katie Rogers.
“To even suggest that women are benefiting off the very restrictions that the state has put in place as relates to second-trimester abortions is – it is a new low, even for Rep. Eastman,” she added.