Politics & Government

Alaska health director says she was forced out by Palin

ANCHORAGE — One of the state's top public health officials says she was forced out of office because Gov. Sarah Palin felt she wasn't in step on social issues.

Beverly Wooley, who has worked more than 20 years in public health in Alaska, most of it with the municipality of Anchorage, ended her stint as state public health director on Wednesday.

She's the second top health official to leave within days. The state's chief medical officer, Jay Butler, left in late June after declining to take on Wooley's job along with his own. He now is in Atlanta, overseeing a U.S. Centers for Disease Control task force on a vaccine to protect against the H1N1 flu virus.

The division has about 550 employees and a budget of $100 million. It includes nurses and epidemiologists, health facility inspectors and keepers of birth and death records. Its staff members run health laboratories and try to prevent diseases like HIV and diabetes.

The key source of tension was legislation that would have required girls under age 17 to get parental consent for an abortion, Wooley said Thursday. The bill, which Palin actively supported, passed the state House but stalled in the Senate.

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