US Catholic Bishop conference behind amendment?

Over the weekend the US House of Representatives passed a landmark bill reforming health-care in the United States. But at the last minute, there was an amendment to ban a number of different financial supports that might be used to provide an abortion.


There are reports that the US Catholic Bishops conference was behind the push by the pro-life Democratic House Caucus.

Both sides credited a forceful lobbying effort by Roman Catholic bishops with the success of the provision, inserted in the bill under pressure from conservative Democrats.

[…] Bishops implored their priests and parishioners to call lawmakers. Conservative Democrats negotiating over the issue with party leaders often expressed their desire to meet the bishops’ criteria, according to many people involved in the talks. On Oct. 8 three members of the bishops conference wrote on its behalf to lawmakers, “If the final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill.”

On Sunday, some abortion rights advocates lashed out at the bishops. “It was an unconscionable power play,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, accusing the bishops of “interceding to put their own ideology in the national health care plan.”

NOW has a statement on the whole issue here.

The Stupak Amendment goes far beyond the abusive Hyde Amendment, which has denied federal funding of abortion since 1976. The Stupak Amendment, if incorporated into the final version of health insurance reform legislation, will:

* Prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;

* Prevent women participating in the public health insurance exchange, administered by private insurance companies, from using 100 percent of their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;

* Prevent low-income women from accessing abortion entirely, in many cases.

Category : The Lead

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8 Comments
  1. LA Episcopal priest

    Thank God there is a group of Christian bishops who stand up for the most vulnerable. God bless them and may our own bishops and Church follow their lead.

    Father Bill Ledbetter, Diocese of Los Angeles

  2. This assault on women’s health is unacceptable – writing religious belief into health care law will prohibit women from seeking the care they need and result in them taking dangerous paths for solutions. Who will stand up for women?

  3. John B. Chilton

    The amendment is a political calculation to pass the bill. The question should be whether ends justify the means. I don’t think so.

    The blame belongs with those that made that compromise. At the end of the day it was Obama and the Pelosi who threw women under the bus.

    It cannot be that religious views don’t belong in political debate. Otherwise it would be unacceptable to criticize the death penalty, the war machine, and argue for social justice on gospel grounds.

  4. Craig Bustrin

    While we are speculating: Rachel Maddow has presented some rather compelling links between the congressmen who accomplished this outrageous maneuver and ‘C Street House’/The Family (a rabidly theocratic group of evangelicals whose focus of ministry and evangelism is among the men in congress).

    At any rate, I think we can assume that Pelosi allowed this as a way of ensuring its passage-hoping that during the process of reconciling the House and Senate versions, the amendment can be knocked out of the final bill.

    We need to do everything we can to make sure this provision isn’t in the final bill presented for the President’s signature…

  5. tgflux

    “the most vulnerable”: euphemism for the religious claim that an embryo (w/ Homo sapiens DNA) is entitled to all the rights of a human being (even superseding the rights of the human being in which the embryo subsists).

    For those of us who don’t share your religious claim, Fr. Ledbetter—and perhaps even for some who do share it—we wonder why the consequences of a religious claim should be inserted into civil law.

    JC Fisher

  6. LA Episcopal priest

    JC Fisher– All manner of consequences of religious– moral– claims are part of civil law. In fact, in the West Christianity is along with Roman law and common law the source of our law. In Catholic Europe slavery was abolished precisely because canon law was overlaid on Roman law. I also believe that Wilberforce and others relied heavily on religious argument to establish that no human ought be a slave in the British Empire. (BTW, I don’t buy that you have to be a Christian to recognize that an unborn baby is human and deserving of protection. Many reach that naturally obvious conclusion without the benefit of catachesis).

    I expect that most readers of this blog applaud when the Episcopal bishops or Ms. Anderson propose some policy direction they wish the US Congress, Administration or Judiciary to take. What is the basis for their speaking out as Christians? I’m pretty sure it is not the US Code, nor should it be. Their basis is in Scripture, Tradition and Natural Reason, the same as for the USCCB.

    So, exactly what again is the problem with Christian leaders speaking to public issues with the aim of changing law or policy? Did you protest the USCCB speaking out against the Iraq War? Do you protest their strong stance against the death penalty? Do you protest their strong and principled defense for the alien, for the poor? Did you march against the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? I somehow doubt that you are that consistent. At least, I hope you are not.

    God bless you.

    Fr. Bill

    Father Bill Ledbetter, Diocese of Los Angeles

  7. John B. Chilton

    http://www.zenit.org/article-27510?l=english

    Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. episcopal conference, issued a statement on behalf of the conference Monday that thanked the U.S. House of Representatives for honoring President Barack Obama’s “commitment to the Congress and the nation that health care reform would not become a vehicle for expanding abortion funding or mandates.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/health/policy/10health.html?_r=1

    “There needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo” on abortion, Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC News. “And that’s the goal.” On the one hand, Mr. Obama said, “we’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.”

    On the other hand, he said, he wanted to make sure “we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices,” because he had promised that “if you’re happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, it’s not going to change.”

    Before passing its health bill on Saturday, the House adopted an amendment that would block the use of federal money for “any health plan that includes coverage of abortion,” except in the case of rape or incest or if the life of a pregnant woman is in danger. Some private insurance now covers abortion. Under the bill, most private insurers would receive federal subsidies on behalf of low- and middle-income people.

  8. tgflux

    JC Fisher– I don’t buy that you have to be a Christian to recognize that an unborn baby is human and deserving of protection. Many reach that naturally obvious conclusion without the benefit of catachesis).

    If you’re going to STIPULATE the matters which are precisely in dispute, Fr. Bill, then there’s really no room here for me to have a dialogue with you (but then wasn’t that your “naturally obvious” intention anyway?).

    JC Fisher

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