My Turn: Don't accept a flawed abortion premise

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2002

Juneau Sen. Kim Elton is quoted in the Juneau Empire as saying that passage of SB 364, which attempts to restrict abortion funding, is "substituting political judgment for medical judgment." I think it is the substitution of legitimate moral values regarding human life for typical secular humanism of liberal Democrats.

We all have the right to question the medical judgment of any abortion doctor. Abortion is a life-and-death issue. Abortion proponents discuss it in terms of slogans and euphemisms without mentioning the life of the baby. It is like discussing slavery without considering the plight of the slave. Abortion kills the child. In a more civil time in our society this practice was condemned.

It is mind-boggling to read that the state paid for 577 welfare abortions in the past fiscal year and that abortion supporters claim that none were elective abortions. By any reasonable definition of "medically necessary," most of these abortions were elective. The problem is the present state regulations that include psychological considerations as a condition under which abortions will be paid for. Sen. Pete Kelly is correct in saying that this permits abortion on demand. It would be nice to know how many abortions were requested but refused based on the present state regulations.

The valiant efforts of the pro-life legislators in the past few years to get the state out of the abortion business cannot be faulted. Some efforts have been very successful. There were lives saved between the time abortion restrictions by the Legislature went into effect until the Alaska Supreme Court struck down the restrictions.

The first successful funding restriction effort went into effect on July 1, 1998. The previous year for which abortion funding statistics were available showed that the state paid for over 800 abortions. The Knowles Administration testified that restrictions of abortion funding would result in an estimated 500 additional live births. The argument was intended to show that this would cost the state more money. In other words, live babies cost more than killing them in the womb.

Over the objections of Gov. Knowles and other Democratic abortion supporters, the Republicans in the Legislature went ahead with their plans. The result was less than 20 abortions paid for in FY99. Assuming one-half of the women still got abortions, restriction of state funding resulted in saving the lives of at least 400 babies in FY99. Those babies would have been killed under a state policy of paying for all welfare abortions that existed the prior year.

Four-hundred lives saved. What other public health or safety measure can make a documented claim even approximating the saving of hundreds of lives? Any one of us would be pleased to claim that some action of ours saved even one life. The heroes in the Alaska Legislature who supported the effort to get the state out of the abortion business deserve our praise and thanks. Of course, wince we are talking about abortion, there were no accolades for this accomplishment.

The job is not finished. The Alaska Supreme Court eventually gave Planned Parenthood and the Alaska Civil Liberties Union what they wanted - a decision that the state must again pay for all "medically necessary" abortions. Attempting to craft the wording for legislation that meets the criteria of the Alaska Supreme Court while still placing meaningful restrictions on state funding of abortions will be impossible. The much larger issue that the Legislature must face is to end the tyranny of the courts in taking out of the hands of the Legislature their right to appropriate money as they see fit. Using the cover of right to privacy and equal protection as the hammer, the courts demand that the Legislature fund abortion payments. This decision does not deserve our respect or acquiescence. There is no privacy right to kill nor does it warrant equal protection.

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court abortion decision, the state cannot outlaw abortion, but at least it should maintain a neutral position on abortion. The law is a teacher. Funding promotes abortion. To compound the matter, most of these abortions are elective, which makes present policy more repugnant because it treats pregnancy like a disease. We should never accept the premise that our love and concern for needy citizens can be expressed in terms of helping women on welfare kill their unborn children.

Sidney D. Heidersdorf is a board member of Alaskans for Life Inc., a Juneau-based pro-life organization.

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