The current debate on the scope of State monies for abortion services must be based on policy principles. We live in an era when government supplied essential medical services is established policy.
Government does not have unlimited monies to pay for every product and service that we citizens might demand. Except for the Feds ability to print money and borrow recklessly, public financing is a "zero sum game". If we spend more money on procedure A, we have fewer funds to spend on procedure B. We must make triage decisions on what activity is valid for government and what, we the public, will pay for. At a minimum, we should choose to pay for the essential medical needs that the indigent must have to live and function.
Federal Medicaid will not pay for most medical procedures that do not directly affect life and function. Thus the government will not pay for hair restoration, or the removal of old age wrinkles, and a host of other non-essential procedures, no matter how much we citizens would like to have our lives enhanced. Most states have similar and sometimes more extensive lists of what elective medical procedures taxpayers may not be forced to pay for.
The efforts of the State of Alaska to define what abortions the state will pay for are designed to make clear what is, and should be common, ethical medical practice. The recent contrarian demagoguery related to this issue is disingenuous. The debate is not about denying an abortion to anyone; it is about what non-essential abortions taxpayers must pay for.
This issue is eerily analogous to the infamous Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
The largely anti slave citizens of the North were appalled when this new federal law required: Northern police and courts to return escaped slaves to their masters in the south (sec. 6), imprisonment of the citizens who helped the slaves escape (sec. 7), fines for cops who would not enforce the new law (sec.5), and a fee for the officials who did co-operate in returning slaves to their "rightful owners (sec. 8). Northerners knew they could not change Southern slavery at the time, but they were outraged to have their taxes and resources used to aid and abet this gross human rights travesty. The rationale for denying basic human rights to slaves or pre-born children is the same. Slaves and pre-born children are not "persons;" they are personal property and therefore not deserving of protection.
The overwhelming majority of Alaskans do not want their money paying for abortions that are not strictly necessary to protect the mother's life. Those Alaskans who disagree and want every woman to be able to get an abortion, for any reason, at any time, are perfectly free to make monetary contributions to Planned Parenthood. This solution will slightly ease the ethical dilemma for those of us whose commitment to human rights forces us to stand against killing children simply because their very presence is perceived to be burdensome.
Mother Teresa said it well:
"By abortion, a mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. By abortion, the father is told he does not have to take any responsibility for the child he brought into this world. Any country that approves abortion is not teaching its people to love, but teaches them to get what they want by violence."
Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, has served in the Alaska Legislature since 1997.
By SEN. FRED DYSON