Gara: I’ve been an ally on choice my whole legislative career. I’ll remain one.

Les Gara.

By Les Gara. Gara served in the Alaska Legislature from 2003 to 2018, representing Anchorage. He is running for governor.

Earlier this month the United States Supreme Court put a woman’s right to choose on the front-burner in this Governor’s race. Women should have the right to make their own private health care decisions. As hardline Supreme Court Justices prepare to roll back Roe v. Wade, they’ve made state laws the last line of defense for women’s choice. 

We can protect these rights in Alaska. But that depends on who you elect. As the only pro-choice Governor’s candidate in this race, I’ve been an ally on choice my whole legislative career. I’ll remain one. I wouldn’t question those whose religious and personal values take them to a different conclusion. But I’ll always be honest about my values. 

As the only candidate who hasn’t acted to try to roll back women’s choice when in office, I want you to know we can protect these rights. 

There are many crucial issues facing this state. But with a woman’s right to choose coming under attack, you have a right to know where the candidates stand on choice. You’ll find solutions on other critical issues at They include ending unjustifiable oil company subsidies so we can afford to build a better future with needed jobs, better schools and more opportunity. Smart renewable energy can reduce high energy costs, create jobs and help address climate change. 

But today you should know we can protect the right to choose in Alaska. As Governor I’d never let our Attorney General try to roll back a woman’s right to choose. That’s something both other major candidates have allowed. 

Governors Dunleavy and Walker and I have all served in elected office. I’m the only one who stood up for women’s choice in office, because those are privacy rights I believe in. 

Governor Dunleavy has extremist views on this and many issues. This year he spent your money on lawyers to side with a radical Texas law effectively banning choice. 

Governor Walker is hardly an extremist. But he’s made decisions based on his proclaimed and deeply held “pro-life” values. Those values let him allow his Attorney General to sue to try to roll back a woman’s right to choose when Governor. 

I would never appoint an Attorney General who’d try to overturn your right to choose, and would fire them if they did.

In fairness, in this race former Governor Walker states he’s “pro-life” but will “uphold” our “Constitution.” That works as long as courts say our “Constitution” protects the right to choose. While I respect the offer, it isn’t a promise to defend a woman’s right to choose. 

Alaska’s right to choose isn’t written into our Constitution, just like the teetering federal right to choose isn’t written in the U.S. Constitution. Under Alaska and federal law, that right is the product of longstanding court rulings. One danger to choice in Alaska is that new judges could re-interpret the Alaska Constitution to roll back the right to choose, just as newer U.S. Supreme Court Justices are about to reverse caselaw that protected your federal constitutional right to choose. 

Former Governor Walker has offered what he can without violating his personal values. I like him personally. We have differences but work across party lines. I’ll list him as my second-choice candidate in November under our new Ranked Choice Voting law. 

But I’ll want to know whether prospective judges would roll back our court precedent on choice. I don’t want judges like the six U.S. Supreme Court Justices who said this week that they’ll overturn Roe v. Wade.

I’ll oppose a “Constitutional Convention,” which is on the ballot in 2022. Extremists want a Convention so they can eliminate a woman’s right to choose more quickly, and adopt other fringe ideas they won’t reveal. 

I’ll veto anti-choice legislation, even if future courts weaken your constitutional right to choice. 

I’ll make sure women have a right to safe contraception with long-term prescriptions. Women shouldn’t have to worry about rushing to the pharmacy while they’re busy with work, family and life. Missed prescriptions mean more unintended pregnancy. 

Last election, like this one, former Governor Walker ran with a pro-choice Lt. Governor. He tried to avoid social issues like this as Governor. But a person’s core values matter. Those values allowed him to let his Attorney General go to court to try to roll back the right to choice for low-income women, and challenge gay marriage (he acknowledges that’s now a constitutional right). 

I wouldn’t have allowed our Attorney General to do either.

To me, and most Alaskans, choice is a privacy right worth strongly protecting. 

Les Gara was a legislator from 2003-2018. He was an Assistant Attorney General on the civil prosecution of Exxon after the Valdez Oil Spill. His wife Kelly is a hospital wound care specialist. They have lived in Alaska since 1988.

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