Last week the United States Supreme Court put a woman’s right to choose on the front-burner in this governor’s race. I personally believe 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 ever question those whose religious and personal values take them to a different conclusion. But I’ll always be honest about my values.

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 candidates stand on choice. You’ll find solutions on other critical issues at www.lesgara.com. Restoring a vibrant university for both students and the Fairbanks economy matters. We need to end unjustifiable oil company subsidies so we can afford to build a better future with needed jobs, better schools and more opportunity.

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.

Govs. 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.

Gov. 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.

Gov. Walker is hardly an extremist. But he’s made decisions based on his deeply held pro-life values. There should be no confusion that we share the same values on choice. His pro-life 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 Gov. 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 Gov. 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 Gov. Walker ran with a pro-choice lieutenant 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 and his wife Kelly have lived in Fairbanks, and then Anchorage since 1988. Les was an Asst. Attorney General on the civil prosecution of Exxon after the Valdez Oil Spill. His wife Kelly is a hospital wound care specialist.

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