These past few days of haggling and heckling over H.R. 3962, the Pelosi version of Obama-style “health care reform,” have left me with a rather sick feeling. What I have learned about the levers of power and how corrupting they can be, even to those in positions of moral leadership such as the Catholic bishops of this nation, is a sobering lesson indeed.
I first surmised that something was amiss when Justin Cardinal Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, sent a letter on Saturday, November 7 to each member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The letter urged the representatives to vote in favor of the “Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment,” commonly referred to as the Stupak Amendment. The USCCB asserted that this amendment would provide consistent protection for the rights of conscience and maintain the current law on abortion funding. It should be noted that, tragically, current law still allows taxpayer funding of abortion in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother.
The letter further states,
The Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment will not affect coverage of abortion in non-subsidized health plans, and will not bar anyone from purchasing a supplemental abortion policy with their own funds. Thus far, H.R. 3962 does not meet President Obama’s commitment of barring use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws.
In the days following the passage of the Stupak Amendment, which led directly to the passage of the Pelosi bill, it has been argued that the amendment’s passage is a victory for pro-life Americans. We are sorry to have to throw cold water on the celebration, but frankly, this is false, for the following reasons.
First, there is the undeniable fact that whatever the seriously deficient Stupak Amendment may or may not do, its language could fall out of any bill ultimately voted on in President Obama’s quest to pass a “health care reform” bill. Second, the Stupak Amendment only addresses abortion funding (and only partially at that).
The Pelosi bill (H.R. 3962) includes the following provisions:
• Expanded access to and funding of abortifacient contraception (section 1714)
• Federal funding of Planned Parenthood-style permissive sex education programs “to prevent teen pregnancy” (section 2526), similar to that stipulated in the Senate version of Obamacare
• Deceptive definitions that, in fact, allow euthanasia through withholding or withdrawing “medical treatment or medical care” and withholding or withdrawing of “nutrition or hydration” (section 240)
• Vaguely worded references to conscience rights and only partial protection of the same (sections 258 and 259)
• Language that forces a “participating health benefits plan” to not “discriminate” against any facilities that “provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” (section 304)
Of course, the first two provisions would result in massive new federal subsidies for organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which peddle contraceptives, abortion and sexual promiscuity, especially to our youth.
The bottom line is that the intent to restore full protection of the human person and his inalienable right to life does not appear to be high on the USCCB’s list of priorities. Instead, it appears content with maintaining the sordid, deadly status quo. This leads one to presume that the USCCB wants mandatory health care coverage for one and all more than it desires the protection of all vulnerable human beings’ right to life.
Catholic News Service reports, “[T]he successful battle to include strict language prohibiting funding for abortions, led by pro-life congressional Democrats with the strong support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is what made the difference in the Nov. 7 House vote to pass a sweeping health care reform bill.”
The article then explains that the USCCB is not happy that the final House bill “would bar people who are in the country illegally from receiving any government assistance to get health coverage.”
However, CNS fails to mention that there are other classes of human beings whose right to life is simply ignored in the bill.
Perhaps the most telling portion of the CNS report is this: Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats, said the vote signaled “a day for celebration among Catholics and all Americans who believe that life’s greatest test is how deeply we care for one another.”
That, my friends, is what the brouhaha is all about, after all. We care deeply for one another as long as we are not thinking of our brothers and sisters in nursing homes, critical care centers, in vitro fertilization clinics, embryonic stem cell research facilities, Planned Parenthood offices where abortive chemicals are dispensed and abortions are committed on someone else’s dime; or those unfortunate people who would be denied care altogether because of the immense, bankrupting burden this legislation would eventually impose on all U.S. taxpayers. How deeply do we care for one another? Not very deeply at all, it would seem.
The passage of this bill with the USCCB's assistance is but another confirmation that the USCCB’s agenda is far different than what one might hope for from the entity representing the shepherds of the nation’s largest religious body—the men who are the Twelve Apostles' direct successors and called to walk in their footsteps.
Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media commented, “Contrary to some media reports, the U.S. Catholics Bishops never opposed a national health care scheme. In fact, their main objection was to a provision for federal funding of abortion. Once that provision was eliminated, the Catholic Bishops embraced the bill.”
So what is one to make of this little game? After all, we are not playing Clue with Grandma in the kitchen; we are negotiating over a piece of legislation that would drastically change the face of this nation, not to mention her bank account. What could the bishops and the bureaucrats who represent them be thinking?
“Was it Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the Revolver? Or did Miss Scarlet commit the crime in the Library with the Candlestick?” the Hasbro web site asks.
No, it’s really not as exciting or as challenging as the game of Clue. In fact, this game could result in a disaster so large that nobody can imagine the consequences. You see, in this game, there are no dice to roll, just the politics of accommodation. In this game, the cost to play has been so great that the USCCB has gambled its moral authority by politicking with the wayward instead of instructing them.
There was a time when Catholic bishops wisely invested themselves in teaching their flock, preparing them to be the men and women of faith who could remold a nation and her politics by standing up for God and His truth. Currently, the USCCB’s leaders themselves appear to be all about politics. And that is very sad indeed.
Upon learning of the USCCB’s letter to Congress this past weekend and the subsequent vote, American Life League issued this statement, which pained me greatly, but which had to be made:
Our Catholic bishops should be fearlessly leading the way towards a culture of life. Fighting to maintain a status quo that has led to the destruction of 51 million preborn children is wrong and confusing to 65 million Catholics united in the defense of life.
What Cardinal Rigali has permitted, by way of political maneuvering, is to allow an amendment to be heard and, we fear, later watch it be defeated. While our Catholic bishops will scramble to define their opposition to abortion in the aftermath, Pelosi will wave Cardinal Rigali’s support for health care reform as evidence that lay Catholics would somehow be wrong in opposing her bill.
In endorsing Pelosicare, our Catholic bishops have risked making themselves political pawns in advancing a culture of death that treats human beings as disposable.
Once again, this incrementalist approach to abortion will serve to enshrine in law grave injustices condemned unequivocally by the Catholic Church. Among these are rationed health care, in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, human experimentation, euthanasia and birth control.
Faithful Catholics have a responsibility to vigorously oppose all acts of killing in health care, not negotiate for the status quo.
Our Catholic bishops, when they negotiate for anything less than the full protection all human beings deserve, undermine the very principles of the Catholic faith and destroy the confidence of faithful Catholics across America.
Our Catholic bishops should point to the unchanging principles and doctrines of the Catholic faith, not negotiate for a status quo that ends the lives of human beings. Today’s letter abrogates those principles. Americans should know that a truly Catholic position on health care protects the right to life of all human beings, at all stages and at all times.
Negotiation of truth is never a Catholic principle. Truth alone should inform the consciences of faithful Catholics, and truth demands the full protection of all human beings.”
As one astute commentator wrote in the Wall Street Journal,
Mrs. Pelosi’s craftiest political turn was a last-minute compromise to strip federal funds from insurance plans that cover abortions. The deal—negotiated by Stupak and supported by the National Right to Life Committee—gave cover to 40-some Democrats to support the larger bill.
However, as subsidized costs soar, government will have no choice but to ration medical care, starting with the aged and grievously ill. Is pre-natal life more valuable than the elderly? We’re reminded of the way pro-lifers supported Kennedy over Laurence for SCOTUS in1987 merely because Mr. Kennedy was a Catholic who claimed to personally oppose abortion. Mr. Stupak played the right-to-lifers like a Stradivarius.
Though not specifically noted in the WSJ commentary, the USCCB willingly played the same tune. Now you know the answer. The case of the missing moral authority is solved.