Don't Be a Faceless Bureaucrat -- Say No to Stupak!

November 16, 2009 09:00 AM

American Life League’s “faceless bureaucrat” ad, which will run this week in USA Today, clearly explains what’s wrong with the political posturing that is currently the rage in Washington D.C. Simple statements like these are far superior to the mumbo jumbo the United States Conferences of Catholic Bishops’  bureaucracy is dishing out at this week’s Catholic bishops’ meeting in Baltimore.

(Since you may not be able to read the wording in the above image, here is the text of the ad: 

Why are these people speaking for the Catholic bishops?

Payment for some abortions, euthanasia, “family planning services,” promiscuity-promoting sex education, and lack of consistent and comprehensive conscience protection guarantees—these are all provisions left untouched by the Stupak Amendment; yet the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops applauded it.

Without the USCCB’s involvement, the fatally flawed Pelosicare bill would have failed. While the small army of lawyers, staffers and lobbyists working for our Catholic bishops may deny these things, the facts speak for themselves. Consider what remains in the Pelosi health care bill after the Stupak Amendment’s passage: 

• Section 240 permits killing of the elderly and infirm.
• Sections 258 and 259 contain contradictory language regarding conscience protection.
• Section 265 (the Stupak Amendment) pays for some abortions.
• Section 304 explicitly forces insurers to cover abortion.
• Section 1714 funds groups such as Planned Parenthood.
• Section 2526 also funds groups such as Planned Parenthood, for providing sex education programs that “improve rates of contraceptive use.”

Where is the “victory” for the culture of life?

Does the USCCB’s apparent support for these provisions send a mixed message to faithful Catholics?  Yes!

This is what the Stupak Amendment allowed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass—a further entrenchment of the culture of death. This is what was done in the name of the Catholic bishops by the USCCB.

We are concerned. We hope you are too.

It’s time to stop the politics of the faceless bureaucrats. We encourage each of our Catholic bishops to ask why these bureaucrats are acting as their voice.

It’s not a question of political access; it’s a question of life and death.)

In this age of sound bites, no-spin zones and other telltale signs of words without meaning, it’s time for pro-life Americans of every age and state in life to be crystal-clear when it comes to addressing the personhood of every human being, at all stages, and the reasons why we dare not compromise on this principle.

To help in that process, we offer the following talking points on the Pelosi-Obama-shamelessly compromised-anti-some surgical abortions Stupak Amendment to H.R. 3962, the House version of the health care reform debacle, also known as Pelosicare.

Q: What is the Stupak Amendment?

The key provision of the Stupak Amendment is as follows:

SEC. 265. LIMITATION ON ABORTION FUNDING.

(a) IN GENERAL—No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

What the Stupak Amendment specifically prohibits is abortion funding (with exceptions) for the public option within the Pelosi health care bill.

What the Stupak Amendment failed to prohibit are the remaining provisions for abortion, contraception, medical “care” that allows euthanasia, promiscuity-promoting sex education, “family planning services” provided by organizations such as Planned Parenthood, contradictory and inconsistent language regarding conscience protection and other loopholes still included in the bill.

Q: Would the Pelosi health care bill have passed if the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had not intervened in the legislative process?

No. As widely reported in the media, the Stupak Amendment gave cover for approximately 40 supposedly pro-life representatives to seemingly support the pro-life cause while also supporting all of the Pelosi bill’s major components. Without the NRLC’s and USCCB’s lobbying efforts on behalf of the Stupak Amendment, it is altogether probable that the Pelosi health care bill would not have passed the House.

Had the Pelosi health care bill failed, none of the alarming provisions included in its current version would have been carried to the U.S. Senate. By enabling the passage of the Pelosi health care bill while failing to address most of the aggressive anti-life and downright life-threatening provisions it contains, the NRLC and the USCCB are, in fact, furthering the abortion and euthanasia agenda.

Q: What is anti-life about this bill?

Here are highlights of some of the anti-life provisions in the Pelosi health care bill, all of which were untouched by the last-minute Stupak deal brokered by the NRLC and the USCCB:

Section 240 permits euthanasia by withholding/withdrawal of medical treatment/medical care and/or nutrition/hydration, by redefining certain terms.

SEC. 240. DISSEMINATION OF ADVANCE CARE PLANNING INFORMATION. …

(d) PROHIBITION ON THE PROMOTION OF ASSISTED SUICIDE.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Subject to paragraph (3), information provided to meet the requirements of subsection (a)(2) shall not include advanced directives or other planning tools that list or describe as an option suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing, regardless of legality. [So far, so good, right? But keep reading!]

(2) CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to apply to or affect any option to—

(A) withhold or withdraw of medical treatment or medical care;
(B) withhold or withdraw of nutrition or hydration; …

Sections 258 and 259 contradict each other regarding conscience protection (reading section 259 first makes this clearer). Moreover, section 259 only addresses abortion. What about conscience protection for persons who object to contraception, sterilization, euthanasia or any other actions that violate their conscience?

SEC. 259. NONDISCRIMINATION ON ABORTION AND RESPECT FOR RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.

(a) NONDISCRIMINATION.—A Federal agency or program, and any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act), may not—

(1) subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination; or
(2) require any health plan created or regulated under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) to subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination, on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

This sounds like a clear guarantee of conscience protection for those who object to abortion. But what about the potential impact of Section 258, which stipulates that state and federal laws regarding conscience protection and requirements to provide abortion override anything in this bill? Therefore, this bill provides no ironclad conscience protection. In fact, you will see that section 304 violates the conscience rights of insurers.

SEC. 258. APPLICATION OF STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.

(a) NO PREEMPTION OF STATE LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt or otherwise have any effect on State laws regarding the prohibition of (or requirement of) coverage, funding, or procedural requirements on abortions, including parental notification or consent for the performance of an abortion on a minor.
(b) NO EFFECT ON FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding—

(A) conscience protection;
(B) willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and
(C) discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.

Section 265 (the Stupak Amendment itself) provides exceptions that allow the killing of preborn children in several circumstances.

SEC. 265. LIMITATION ON ABORTION FUNDING

(a) In General.—No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

Section 304 forces insurance firms to pay for abortion, which violates the conscience rights of pro-life insurance firms and pro-life insurance firm employees.

SEC. 304. CONTRACTS FOR THE OFFERING OF EXCHANGE-PARTICIPATING HEALTH BENEFITS PLANS. …

(d) NO DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF PROVISION OF ABORTION.—No Exchange participating health benefits plan may discriminate against any individual health care provider or health care facility because of its willingness or unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

Section 1714 provides “family planning services” through programs administered by state governments, which would, in turn, subsidize organizations that push contraception and abortion, such as Planned Parenthood.

SEC. 1714. STATE ELIGIBILITY OPTION FOR FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES….

… (a) STATE OPTION.—State plan approved under section 1902 may provide for making medical assistance available to an individual described in section 1902(hh) (relating to individuals who meet certain income eligibility standard) during a presumptive eligibility period. In the case of an individual described in section 1902(hh), such medical assistance shall be limited to family planning services and supplies described in 1905(a)(4)(C) and, at the State’s option, medical diagnosis and treatment services that are provided in conjunction with a family planning service in a family planning setting.

Section 2526 funds organizations such as Planned Parenthood for the provision of permissive sex education programs for minors.

SEC. 2526. HEALTHY TEEN INITIATIVE TO PREVENT TEEN PREGNANCY . …

(a) PROGRAM.—To the extent and in the amount of appropriations made in advance in appropriations Acts, the Secretary, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shall establish a program consisting of making grants, in amounts determined under subsection (c), to each State that submits an application in accordance with subsection (d) for an evidence-based education program described in subsection (b).

(b) USE OF FUNDS.—Amounts received by a State under this section shall be used to conduct or support evidence-based education programs (directly or through grants or contracts to public or private nonprofit entities, including schools and community-based and faith-based organizations) to reduce teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. …
(i) DEFINITION.—In this section, the term “evidence-based” means based on a model that has been found ….

(1) to delay initiation of sex;
(2) to decrease number of partners;
(3) to reduce teen pregnancy;
(4) to reduce sexually transmitted infection rate
(5) to improve rates of contraceptive use.

Q: What tactics did the NRLC and the USCCB use to help obtain the passage of the Pelosi health care bill?

Working in tandem, the NRLC threatened to include Stupak votes on congressional scorecards, and the USCCB made it possible for Catholic Democrats in the House to pay lip service to Church teaching on abortion while voting for a bill that violates Church teachings in several ways, including abortion.

Q: Was the Stupak Amendment a victory for the pro-life movement?

No! In fact, it hurt us by allowing several anti-life provisions to remain in the Pelosi bill and enabled it to move on to the U.S. Senate.

Q: Is opposing the Stupak Amendment divisive to the pro-life movement?

The NRLC has a long history of compromising where there need not be compromise and misleading millions of sincere pro-lifers into believing that abortion-accommodating strategies are necessary to combat abortion. The grassroots pro-life movement remains united; whether the NRLC remains united to the grassroots is debatable.

Q: Is this uncharitable?

Fifty-one million children have died during 36 years of pro-life leadership failures. Now that’s uncharitable! 

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