Alaska state Rep. David Eastman (R) has inspired outrage after a video of him went viral where he argues there’s a “net benefit” to society when a child dies of abuse because then the state doesn’t have to pay for their care and other services. Eastman campaigned on the “sanctity of human life.”
Eastman, who is also a Capitol rioter and an Oath Keeper, made his comments during a committee hearing in the Alaska legislature on Monday night. The committee was discussing a presentation about how measures to prevent child abuse save the state money in the long run, per Alaska Children’s Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group whose chief executive officer was at the hearing.
“In the case where child abuse is fatal—obviously it’s not good for the child—but it’s actually a benefit to society because there aren’t needs for government services and whatnot through the child’s life,” Eastman said.
Trevor Storrs, president and CEO of Alaska Children’s Trust, asked Eastman to repeat himself. “Did you say, ‘a benefit for society?’” Storrs said incredulously, adding that the loss of a child is “unmeasurable” to a family.
Rather than backtrack, Eastman doubled down.
“Talking dollars,” he said, “Now you’ve got a $1.5 million price tag for victims of fatal child abuse. It gets argued periodically that it’s actually a cost savings because that child is not going to need any of those government services that they might otherwise be entitled to receive and need based on growing up in this type of environment.”
The Alaska Landmine, which originally posted the video of the exchange, wrote, “Not even sure what to say here.”
Alaska state Rep. Cliff Groh (D) told the Anchorage Daily News that he was “disturbed” by his Republican colleague’s comments.
Eastman’s chilling argument that there’s a net benefit to society when a child dies from abuse contradicts statements on his campaign website.
Eastman, who opposes abortion and was endorsed by anti-choice organization Alaska Right to Life, has an entire section of his website dedicated to “the sanctity of human life.”
“The forceful taking of an innocent human life can never be justified,” it states. “Life is a gift from the Creator; a gift that all just governments are obliged to protect.”
It goes on to argue that the government subsidizing abortion “erodes the culture of life that is essential to successfully combat the evils of infanticide, child abuse, and domestic violence.”
Alaska Right to Life’s endorsement points to Eastman’s “proven commitment … to put forward legislation that prohibits killing children at any age of life, any stage of development, for any reason.”
Many viewed him as a hypocrite. “So abortion is murder but dead child is more cost effective,” wrote one. Another person posted screenshots from Eastman’s website.
Outrage and disgust poured in as the video gained views.
“How do those words even come out of someone’s mouth?” @eileendt5 commented. “And when there was pushback, he didn’t respond as though he was misunderstood, he just attempt to clarify the monstrous thing he’d just said.”
Eastman, who is reportedly something of a pariah among Alaskan Republicans, has not apologized for his comments. He told Anchorage Daily News that he’s “pleased” that Alaska Children’s Trust is “advocating against child abuse.”
“But a child’s value comes not from future productivity, but from the fact that every child is made in the image of God,” he added.