Lawmakers hear pushback on bill to bar Planned Parenthood from schools

After clearing the Alaska Senate last month, a bill that would bar “abortion providers” like Planned Parenthood from teaching in public schools has been taken up in the House.

Senate Bill 89 would require parents to opt their kids in to sexual education lessons.

The public took the opportunity to push back against the bill Monday morning.

There was still some confusion among House Education committee members Monday morning about exactly how Senate Bill 89 would affect parents’ involvement in their children’s education, since parents can already opt their children out of any lesson or activity.

But members of the public – including educators, parents, and healthcare professionals – gave passionate testimony, mostly in opposition to the bill.

Among them was Aurora Hoefferle, a UAA student from Dillingham. She says as a future educator, she doesn’t want younger students to grow up like she did, without quality sex education in school.

“I received most of my sexual education from the internet, and not from sources that I’m particularly proud to name today,” says Hoefferle. “I’m not a parent, but I’m sure if I had a child I would much rather have them learn about sexuality and health from an approved and accurate curriculum than by just Googling ‘sex.’”

Just a few callers testified in support of the bill.

Elijah Rohagen said it’s important that kids receive sexual education, but only at the discretion of their parents.

“Planned Parenthood is known for providing abortions, and even if abortions only make up 3 percent [of their services], as they claim, they still are providing abortions. Which is murder, there’s no sugar-coating it,” said Rohagen. “So allowing them to teach sexual education and give out their info in our schools is like allowing a murderer to babysit your kids because 97 percent of the time he’s doing good things. You would never let that happen with your kids, and this must and should not happen in our state.”

Enzina Marrari of Anchorage used to be an educator with Planned Parenthood. She told the committee that during her five years in that role, it was never her job to recruit clients nor provide information about abortion services to students.

“My job was to provide comprehensive sexual health education at no charge, to reduce the rate of sexually transmitted infections, to prevent unintended pregnancies,” Marrari said, “and to provide students with fact-based information to make healthy, empowered, and informed decisions.”

House Education Committee Chair Rep. Wes Keller called the bill important for “parental rights” and “transparency.” A staffer in Keller’s office said the Committee plans to take up S.B. 89 again this week or Monday the 21st at the latest.

Last Friday, the Senate Education Committee heard comment overwhelmingly in opposition to a companion bill, Senate Bill 191, which outlines penalties for employees who bring Planned Parenthood curriculum into schools, and has been flagged as “constitutionally problematic” by the legislature’s legal counsel.  The Senate Education Committee will take up S.B. 191 again Tuesday afternoon.