A legislature in Alaska caused outrage after questioning whether the death of child abuse victims could be "a cost savings," because it would mean they don't need "government services" later in life.

Republican David Eastman, who sits in the Alaska House of Representatives, made the comment on Monday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The committee was meeting to discuss how children are impacted by physical or sexual abuse, as well as witnessing domestic violence within their family home.

Lawmakers were shown a study indicating each incident of fatal child abuse costs society $1.5 million, a figure reached by assessing the impact of trauma and the child's loss of earnings over a lifetime.

However, Eastman was unimpressed, and questioned whether fatal child abuse could be economically beneficial to wider society, an argument he claimed to have heard.

Eastman said: "It can be 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 remark horrified Trevor Storrs, president of the Alaska Children's Trust (ACT), who hit back describing the loss of a child as "unmeasurable."

Democratic Representative Cliff Groh, who used to work as a prosecutor covering child abuse allegations, said he was "disturbed" by Easterman's comment.

Representative Sarah Vance, the Republican who claims the House Judiciary Committee, said Easterman, who doesn't serve on any committees, had been at the hearing "at my invitation."

According to the Anchorage Daily News, she added: "I wished that he asked questions with a little bit more sensitivity to the listeners and how they're perceived, and I can have that conversation.

"But he's there on his own accord and only represents himself."

Vance later suggested Eastman had been trying to make an argument against abortion, which some consider to be "child abuse."

Speaking with the Anchorage Daily News via text message, Eastman said: "I was pleased to hear ACT 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."

Newsweek has contacted Eastman to ask if he stands by his original remarks.

Eastman, a former soldier, was reelected to the Alaska House of Representatives in November 2022.

A lawsuit was filed attempting unsuccessfully to bar Eastman from office due to his membership of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing paramilitary group.

A number of Oath Keepers have been convicted over their role in the storming of Congress on January 6 2021, it a bid to stop the 2020 presidential election result being certified.

Eastman was present in Washington, D.C. that day but there is no indication he took part in the disturbances, which he condemned. He later promoted a discredited conspiracy theory, suggesting the violence could have been committed by left-wing movement Antifa.