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Alaska Democratic lawmaker apologizes after Nazi comment

September 15, 2021 GMT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A member of the Alaska Legislature has apologized for saying Nazi experimentation on prisoners “produced results.”

State Rep. Sara Hannan, a Democrat from Juneau, made the comment Saturday when House minority Republicans were attempting a vote on whether the Nuremberg Code — ethics principles for human experimentation written after the Nazi atrocities of World War II were discovered — was still valid, the Juneau Empire reported.

“I apologize for the words that I used on the House Floor yesterday,” Hannan said Sunday on social media. “I did not mean to imply any support for NAZIs nor their experimentation in any way. My remarks were incorrect, insensitive and hurtful. I am sorry and will strive to do better.”

Hannan’s comments came during an attempt from state Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, to force a non-binding vote asking the Alaska House whether the Nuremberg code “remains just as valid today as when it was written in 1947,” the Anchorage Daily News reported.

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Some opponents of COVID-19 vaccinations contend they are in violation of the code, created in the wake of Nazi atrocities and intended to prevent medical experimentation again.

Eastman did not explicitly refer to COVID-19 vaccinations in the context of the code on Saturday. The Federal Drug Administration last month gave final approval to the Pfizer vaccine, while vaccines from Moderna and Johnson and Johnson have received emergency use authorizations.

Rep. Christopher Kurka, another Wasilla Republican, on Saturday called mass COVID-19 vaccinations “a giant human experiment.”

During debate, Hannan said the Nazi experiments were “violations of human dignity, of scientific methodology, yet they produced results.”

Hannan on Tuesday told The Associated Press that she has been prepared to make an apology on the House floor since making her comments, but the body adjourned Sunday and canceled its session on Monday.

She intended to issue the apology on Tuesday, the last day of the Legislature’s special session.

“The words I will say are the words that I have posted,” she said. “I don’t usually work from a script, but in this case, I am because that’s what got me in trouble.”

However, the House canceled its floor session, and then the Legislature adjourned the special session, preventing her from giving the public apology.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which preserves the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp, said on social media in July that using the Holocaust to argue against a vaccination that saves human lives “is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline.”

State Rep. Andy Josephson, an Anchorage Democrat, told the Anchorage newspaper that comparing vaccination efforts and Nazi atrocities was “profoundly offensive.”

“It’s just a horrible analogy, and people should just not go there,” he said.

House Speaker Louise Stutes, a Kodiak Republican, on Saturday referred Eastman’s measure to three committees, a death-knell since the Legislature session had to end Tuesday.