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Elections & Politics

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest on Alaska Republican Primary: Dangerous Threat to Alaska Women’s Health on the Ballot this November

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 08.20.14

Anchorage, AK — Responding to tonight’s victory by Dan Sullivan in the Alaska Republican Senate primary, Planned Parenthood advocacy and political groups committed to a comprehensive campaign educating Alaska voters about Sullivan’s dangerous record and positions on women’s health in advance of the general election. This effort is part of the Women are Watching campaign to engage and mobilize voters around women’s health.

“It’s clear the Alaska Senate race is a battleground for women’s health,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “We know that women will play a key role in determining the outcome of this race and many others across the country. That’s why we’ve launched an integrated campaign to ensure Alaskans know where Senator Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan stand on issues important to women’s health and rights.”

On one side of the ballot voters have Dan Sullivan, who has dodged questions left and right around his positions on policies important to Alaska women and families, including a federal personhood bill and the Violence Against Women Act. On the other side, they have Mark Begich, a true champion for women’s health and rights with a steadfast commitment to standing up for women and families at home and in Washington.

“We knew that no matter who won the Republican primary that women’s health would be on the ballot this November,” said Jessica Cler, Alaska Public Affairs Manager at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. “Alaska women are watching — and now it’s up to us to ask the tough questions when it comes to Dan Sullivan’s record and positions on women’s health. At Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, the choice is clear: Dan Sullivan doesn’t represent Alaska women and wants to put government where it doesn’t belong — in between a woman and her doctor. Between now and November 4th, we will be working around the clock to make sure Alaskans vote and when they do, that they vote for the candidate that will stand up for them at home and in Washington to ensure women and families get a fair shot.”

While Joe Miller and Mead Treadwell were steadfast in their dangerous positions when it comes to women’s health, Sullivan has been slippery, dodging questions left and right leaving Alaska women uneasy as to whether they can trust Sullivan in Washington.

For example, during a candidate forum on April 25, voters heard loud and clear from Joe Miller when he stated his steadfast support for the Life at Conception Act, a so-called “personhood” effort introduced by conservative leader Rand Paul in the U.S. Senate that could end access to safe and legal abortion in the United States. When pushed, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell said he “will support legislation that supports the definition of life beginning at conception.” The third Republican contender, Dan Sullivan, dodged the question and said he needed time to read the bill. Alaska voters are now left confused, especially since his campaign website states: “life begins at conception and we must fight to protect the lives of the unborn.”

When asked about his position on the Violence Against Women Act, Sullivan used a similar line.

To encourage Dan Sullivan to clarify his position and finally read the Life at Conception Act, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest sent his office a copy of the bill in May, with a request that he make clear for Alaska voters exactly where he stands. Months later, a clear response has still yet to be made. (Click here for a copy of the mailed letter and click here for a copy of the bill.)

To hold him accountable and to encourage voters to ask Sullivan the tough questions, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, alongside Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest launched an effort called “Slippery Sullivan.” You can view some of the graphics here and here. You can view ads holding him accountable for the deeply unpopular Hobby Lobby decision here.

BACKGROUND: Dan Sullivan is too extreme for Alaska women and families.

He thinks bosses and politicians should decide whether you get access to affordable birth control: Dan Sullivan has said that he thought the deeply unpopular Hobby Lobby lawsuit which gives bosses the legal right to deny women access to no-copay birth control was “great,” which is not what a majority of women voters think. Sixty-eight percent of women voters say that politicians who support the Hobby Lobby decision are out of touch with them and their everyday lives. [Tom Anderson Show, 1/7/14; Hart Research Associates, 7/25/14Alaska Family Action Candidate Survey]

He would deny Alaska women and families access to Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services: Dan Sullivan said that he would support legislation that would cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, blocking access to the preventive services health centers provide to women, men and young people, including lifesaving cancer screenings, STI testing and birth control. According to the Guttmacher Institute, for every dollar spent on family planning, nearly $6 in public money is saved. Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood patients live with incomes of 150% of the federal poverty level or less, the equivalent of $34,575 a year for the family of four in 2012. [Alaska Family Action Candidate Survey; Guttmacher InstituteAugust 2014]

He wants to go back to the days when insurance companies could charge women more for health care coverage: Sullivan wants to go back to the days when women paid more for health insurance, and insurance companies could once again charge women more for their coverage and classify pregnancy as a “pre-existing condition.” He was a lead attorney general in an effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act and has said that he supports a repeal of the federal health care law.  [Alaska Family Action Candidate SurveyAlaska Dispatch News, 4/20/10]

He would impose his extreme beliefs about abortion on women and their families: Dan Sullivan wants to ban abortion with no exceptions for the health of a woman. When Sullivan was attorney general, he approved an effort to put a dangerous and extreme “personhood” initiative on the Alaska ballot and said it could move forward. If enacted, the measure could interfere with personal, private medical decisions about birth control, access to fertility treatment, management of a miscarriage, and access to safe and legal abortion. Sullivan refuses to give a clear position on where he stands on the Life at Conception Act, federal legislation that would do the same thing. [Alaska Dispatch News8/4/14Associated Press12/26/12]

He is against raising minimum wage, which would help reduce poverty among women and families struggling to make ends meet: Dan Sullivan does not believe that the current minimum wage should be raised, despite overwhelming support among Alaskans for a minimum wage increase. Polling finds that 67% of Alaskan voters support raising the minimum wage, which will appear on the ballot in November. Raising the minimum wage would benefit almost 4.8 million working mothers, helping to pull many families out of poverty. Increasing the minimum wage is also a key step toward closing the gender wage gap. In Alaska, women make nearly $15,000 less annually, compared to their male counterparts. [Associated Press, 1/18/14Public Policy Polling5/14/14;National Women's Law Center3/28/14National Partnership for Women and FamiliesApril 2014]

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.