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.

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