The holidays brought with them a welcome truce in the battle over national health care reform. But as surely as the snow flying in January, the debate will begin again, and as it does so, there are lots of reasons to be concerned about the legislation that’s emerging from Congress.
Governor Carcieri aptly summarized the situation in his pre-Christmas statement about the legislation. The Governor wrote, “It is absolutely disgraceful for the United States Senate to push through health care ‘reform’ that is filled with increased costs to states, increased taxes on America’s small business owners, and laden with special deals in exchange for votes . . . The federal government is being completely irresponsible.”
Now, there are lots people who know more about health care legislation than I do, and I’ll leave it to the experts to debate the financial and technical issues, but it seems to me that the Governor raises some very legitimate questions. Even from my rather limited perspective, though, I wonder about the legislative process that led to the Senate version of the bill – voting late at night and early in the morning and even on Christmas Eve. What’s that all about? Why the rush?
Legislative and fiscal issues aside, however, the primary concern that many of us have about the pending health care proposal is that the Senate version opens the door – even if the back door – to federal funding of abortion. This violates the longstanding and widely accepted precedent contained in the Hyde Amendment, and reflected in the Stupak Amendment in the House bill, that prohibits federal funding of abortion in most cases. In short, dear reader, if the Senate bill passes, your tax dollars will be now used to pay for other people’s abortions. It’s a deplorable development opposed by a large majority of Americans.
The American Bishops, through their committee heads, have explained the problem with the Senate bill: “Federal funds will help subsidize, and in some cases a federal agency will facilitate and promote, health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions in a very direct and explicit way, through a separate premium payment designed solely to pay for abortion.”
The bishops also point out that the Senate bill does not include conscience protection for Catholic health care institutions and workers – thus allowing the government to discriminate against those who oppose the abortion coverage.
The American Bishops continue to support comprehensive health care reform – reform that makes health care more accessible and affordable: “For many months, our bishop’s conference has worked with members of Congress, the Administration and others to fashion health care reform legislation that truly protects the life, dignity and consciences of all,” the bishops explain. “Our message has been clear and consistent throughout.”
Health care reform that includes abortion funding, however, would be taking one step forward and two steps backward. It would clearly violate a necessary principle of human progress expressed by Pope Benedict when he wrote, “Openness to life is at the center of true development.” (Caritas in Veritate, #28)
We need to say, as loudly and clearly as we can, that abortion is not health care, especially for the unborn child. As one commentator wisely observed, every abortion results in one death and one injury – the death of the child and the injury to the mother who suffers physical, emotional and spiritual harm.
When you listen to the discussion of health care reform in the days to come, be alert to the argument of the abortionists who point to extreme cases – such as rape, incest and the life of the mother – to justify their position. While these situations do occur and are certainly tragic – we need to provide every possible support to the mother when they take place – the fact is that their occurrence is very rare. Additionally, having an abortion doesn’t help the mother at all through these burdensome situations; it only inflicts additional and long-lasting harm upon her at a very vulnerable time. And remember, finally, that many women who procure abortions do so simply because they don’t want their children, don’t want the “burden,” and were too irresponsible to avoid getting pregnant.
Health care is an important priority and it’s too bad, tragic really, that the abortion lobby has hijacked the health care debate, forcefully inserting their agenda into the proposed legislation. Their intransigence threatens the passage of this historic social achievement for our country.
So, as the health care debate resumes in our land, ask yourself a few questions: Do you want abortion included in our new health care legislation? Do you want to pay for other people’s abortions? Do you want the federal government to force Catholic institutions and health care workers to participate in abortions?
If your answer to any or all of these questions is “no” you need to contact your Congressional delegation – Senators Reed and Whitehouse, and Congressmen Kennedy and Langevin – without delay and tell them to keep the funding of abortion – directly or indirectly – out of health care. In short, no funding, “not even a penny” for abortion.
For information on ‘Effective Faith: Faith that Makes a Difference’ the new book published by Bishop Tobin, please click here.