By Kathleen Gilbert

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, November 2, 2009 ( – A statute recognizing the personhood of human beings from the moment of conception has been certified in Alaska.

“An Act Recognizing the Legal Personhood of All Human Beings Including Unborn Children” was introduced by 22-year-old local pro-life activist Christopher Kurka on August 24, and Lt. Governor Sean Parnell certified the application on October 22.  The initiative, which must gather over 32,000 signatures, will likely appear on the 2012 primary ballot.

The act reads: “Be it enacted by the People of the State of Alaska that all human beings, from the beginning of their biological development as human organisms, including the single-cell embryo, regardless of age, health, level of functioning, condition of dependecy or method of reproduction, shall be recognized as legal persons in the state of Alaska.”

Alaska joins several other U.S. states with active personhood initiatives, either in state legislatures or constitutional ballot initiatives.

Planned Parenthood of Alaska (PPAK) objected to the initiative by claiming that it would lead to women being investigated for miscarriages. 

“Worst-case scenario is we might be in a situation where women or doctors would have to report if a woman had a miscarriage and then she might be investigated as to why,” PPAK president Clover Simon told NBC 2.  “There are a lot of potential and unintended consequences for these initiatives and because we don't really know what they are until it's put into practice, I think it's kind of scary for women.”

In a telephone interview with (LSN) Monday, Kurka called Planned Parenthood's objection “ludicrous.”

“Even though they try to bring up all these distractions, they still have to focus on whether the unborn is a person, which is what the pro-life movement has needed to do,” said Kurka.  “It's where we win the argument, it's where the real issue is.  It's not a ban on a procedure …. It's asking whether or not the unborn is a person, and is going to be protected like the rest of us.”

The pro-lifer said that he was optimistic about the measure, pointing out the positive response even despite local news coverage he felt was negatively biased.

“Even though [the local media] did kind of a hatchet job, and they were quite biased, actually, I still got contacted by a lot of people who went through a lot of trouble to hunt me down because they wanted to sign the initiative,” he said.  “I found that very encouraging.”

Kurka, who has already been active in politics despite his youth, said he felt it was important for the statute to declare a recognition, rather than a definition, of personhood. 

“It's dangerous for the state to define persons, because then the state is claiming they have the right to define them, rather than recognizing who persons are, and therefore protecting them,” he said.