Editor’s note: On April 3, Alaska House Majority Leader Dan Saddler (R-Eagle River) joined four other House Republicans and all House Democrats in voting against a pro-life amendment from Rep. David Eastman to the state budget. Eastman’s amendment aimed to remove all funding for abortion from the Alaska Medicaid program. Read that story here. The Watchman asked each of the five Republicans who voted against this amendment to provide a rationale. Saddler’s explanation was received after the deadline for our article, but it is published below.

Rep. Dan Saddler

The truth is, motions like Rep. Eastman’s can do nothing to actually stop state Medicaid spending for abortion. If they would truly prevent abortion, I would’ve voted against tabling, and for their passage. But they don’t.

While I thank God for the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, it has as yet had no effect in Alaska, as the Alaska Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled the state may not refuse to spend Medicaid services for abortion.

I am pro-life personally, and have been a strong pro-life legislator. I have supported and donated to pro-life causes and organizations, have regularly stood in prayer with advocates for life, and have prayed on my own for an end to abortion and for the souls of babies lost to this scourge.

Over the course of my legislative service, I have voted many, many times for budget language cutting Medicaid money for abortion. Those cuts have always been reversed because the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled such cuts unconstitutional.  Even Gov. Dunleavy has failed in his effort to not fund Medicaid abortions. Such efforts lead only to costly litigation that we cannot win, but which further strains our limited state funds.

I’m concerned that these kinds of ineffective but seemingly attractive technical amendments – including one today purporting to cut money from the “mental health budget” for Medicaid services that can’t be used for abortion – do far more harm in confusing well-meaning members of the public than good in passing effective policy.

Actually, ending abortions in our state – whether paid by the Medicaid program or private funds – will require the Alaska House and Senate to pass a resolution to put a constitutional amendment before voters, and for voters to pass it. That’s where the meaningful work will be done, and that’s the kind of meaningful legislation I will support.

Again, I appreciate the chance to share the truth with you and your readers.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Rep. Saddler offers explanation for why he voted against pro-life amendment to state budget