Politics vs. public health

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Public policy doesn't always have to be about politics, and most of the time we're vastly relieved when it isn't.

Such was the case with the response of Chuck Duarte, Nevada Medicaid administrator, to President Bush's idea of extending health insurance to unborn children.

Duarte, to his credit, thought first of the mother and fetus. "It makes good public health sense," he said.

That wasn't the response from all quarters -- including some women's groups, who should know better.

They see in Bush's proposal a sneaky legal precedence to undermine the Roe v. Wade decision by giving legal status to an unborn child. Abortion opponents also were looking at the legal angle, hoping to make just that argument in court.

To both we say, "Enough."

While we don't deny the emotional, religious and philosophical importance of the abortion debate, there is no excuse for letting the political argument outweigh the public-health argument.

Clearly, extending Nevada CheckUp benefits to qualifying women for prenatal care can do a great deal to help bring healthy babies into the world -- as many as 300 a year, according to Duarte.

To oppose or favor the idea on political grounds misses the point entirely. In fact, it makes us wonder if some of those who are leading the abortion debate these days have forgotten why it started.


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