If Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell thought it was going to be easy to cut Denali KidCare, the subsidized healthcare program that covers low income children and pregnant women, he was definitely mistaken. Parnell, who refused to expand the program after learning that some of the funds could possibly go to providing abortion care, is now in the middle of a firestorm of criticism from the rest of the Alaskan legislature.
Parnell claims that the program is covering “hundreds of abortions” in the state, but the figures coming out don’t necessarily back that up. From the Cordova Times:
The Alaska health department says 0.18 percent of a health insurance program for low income families was spent on “abortion related services” but it didn’t have exact figures on how many abortions were performed.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell vetoed an expansion of Denali KidCare last week because he found out the program pays for abortions. Parnell said the program paid for “hundreds” of abortions, but the state senator who pushed for the money through the Legislature disputed that.
The health department on Friday said $384,000 of the program’s $217 million budget last year went toward “abortion related services” and 664 people received such services.
The department’s deputy commissioner Bill Streur said that doesn’t mean they all received abortions since that covers anyone who tells the program they are considering an abortion.
“It may or may not result in abortion. It may be a sonogram, it may be counseling that they receive,” Streur said.
Women who have abortions paid through the program also would have to prove that their procedure was “medically necessary,” according to Streur.
The Cordova Times also mentions what the expansion would have meant to the poor in the state, had it not been vetoed:
Denali KidCare, the Alaska version of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, covers 7,900 Alaska children.
Parnell vetoed $3 million that would have added 1,300 more children and 218 pregnant women.
The bill would have increased the qualifying income eligibility standard to 200 percent of the federal poverty line, up from 175 percent.
Proponents say Parnell was giving up as much as $2 million in matching federal money with his veto.
Sounds a little like a Nebraska Governor we all know…
Meanwhile, Democrats are advocating for a special session to have the veto reconsidered. According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Four Anchorage Democrats have asked Gov. Sean Parnell to resurrect debate on low-income health care by calling a special session. But colleagues from Fairbanks said they doubt the session will come about and hinted politics could be behind the request.
One week ago, Parnell vetoed a proposed $2.9 million expansion of the Denali KidCare program, saying the expansion would allow more government aid for abortions. The increase was aimed at boosting eligibility for children and pregnant mothers to twice the federal poverty level.
Fairbanks-area senators suggested any resulting discussion would be best dealt with during the Legislature’s regularly scheduled sessions — where the House and Senate both easily passed the plan — and not at a special get-together months before most lawmakers face voters at the polls.
“Now, the variables of election-year politics come to play and may change previous, substantive determinations,” said Sen. Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks.
It’s no wonder a special session isn’t a popular idea, what with the Governor, after making his veto, running off to Colorado to meet with Evangelicals. From the Anchorage Daily News:
Gov. Sean Parnell and his Anchorage office director traveled to Colorado at state expense this week for meetings with the evangelical group Focus on the Family, reports AlaskaDispatch.com. The group describes itself as “a global Christian ministry … [providing] help and resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God’s design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles.”
Guess he showed who his real constituents are.
Finally, the Alaska Lieutenant Governor candidates are getting in on the abortion brawl as well. Via the Alaska Public Radio Network:
Four candidates running to be Alaska’s next Lieutenant Governor squared off in a Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce sponsored forum on Tuesday. The candidates: Republicans Jay Ramras, Mead Treadwell, and Eddie Burke, and Democrat Diane Benson took questions on a range of topics, including two initiatives that will be on the August 24 primary ballot.
[Democratic candidate Diane] Benson, of Anchorage, was the only candidate who voiced opposition to requiring parental consent for abortion for women under 18 years old, the subject of the other proposition that will be on the August ballot.
June 9, 2010
Advancing maternal health without ‘culture clash’ – Globe and Mail
Anti-Abortion & Anti-Gay Marriage Republican Cal Candidates; Feeble Democrats – Bay Area Indymedia
Interest groups see opportunity in Kagan fight – The Associated Press
KidCare spent $384000 on abortion related services – Cordova Times
Crist mulls his abortion bill ‘message’ – Orlando Sentinel
Lieutenant Governor Candidates Debate Hot Topics – Alaska Public Radio Network
Governor does ‘state business’ at Colorado meeting of evangelical group – Anchorage Daily News
Canada cheered, jeered at maternal health conference for G8 initiative – Winnipeg Free Press
Stand for women, privacy – Tampabay.com
Crist drops anti-abortion language from website – The Associated Press
Fiorina and Boxer spar over abortion – Los Angeles Times
Abortion on base – Washington Times
Tale of two opinions at maternal health meeting – Toronto Star
Is Charlie Crist Pro-Choice Or Anti-Choice? – Blue Wave News
Secrets of Success: College, Mentor, Pill – New York Times
COLUMN: Although popular, the rhythm method isn’t safe for teens – Columbia Missourian
Most Evangelical Leaders OK with Birth Control – Christian Post
FIFA under fire over safe-sex stance – msnbc.com
Cancer threat to all women – Fiji Times
June 10, 2010
Bonsai Trees Leads To Abortion Provider Scare – KMBC Kansas City
Bill includes amendment to allow abortions at overseas bases – Stars and Stripes
Crist Wants To Avoid Delay On Abortion Bill – The Ledger
Interior senators: Special session doubtful – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Florida Governor Charlie Crist to Decide on Abortion Bill by Weekend – The State Column
Boxer inaccurate on abortion – OCRegister
Abortion pills by video – GetReligion