Blog Post

Catholics Must Do More to Get Abortion Out of Health Care Bill

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer A leading Catholic voice says Congress has little to fear by the bishops’ opposition to abortion coverage in the health care bill because most of the Catholics in Congress support the bills and several mainstream Catholic organizations such as Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Health Association and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, have voiced their support. “The overall impression given by Church leadership thus far is that universal health care coverage is so badly needed that they are not willing to endanger the legislation by protesting too loudly against abortion coverage,” writes Deal Hudson of Deal says the only notable resistance against the abortion provisions has come from a Catholic, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); an Evangelical, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN); and 20 "blue dog" Democrats, led by Catholic Bart Stupak (D-MI) who signed a letter asking that abortion coverage be removed from the bill. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has also sent two letters to members of Congress asking them to support an amendment to exclude the abortion mandate from any health care bill. Even while the president was reassuring the pope about his desire to reduce abortion and feigning indifference to abortion coverage in health care reform during an interview with Katie Couric, one of his closest advisors, Tina Tchen, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, was reassuring Planned Parenthood that the Obama Administration would not buckle to pressure and remove abortion coverage from the bills. And for good reason, Hudson writes. Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Health Association and the St. Vincent de Paul Society have all publicly announced their support of the reform without ever mentioning the abortion coverage that is included in the bills. When asked why they are backing legislation that the USCCB has sharply criticized, Roger Playwin, national executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society told that the bishop’s office advised them that abortion coverage isn’t included in the bills. “So I can't speak to it,” Playwin said, “because all I know is that the bishops' office has said that story is going around, but it's inaccurate. That's all I know.” When asked for clarification about where he got that information, Playwin clarified that it did not come from the USCCB but rather from Catholic Charities USA. “In other words, Playwin somehow received a message from Catholic Charities USA that abortion coverage was not contained in the House and Senate versions of the bill -- which is simply not true, as the letters from Bishop Murphy and Cardinal Rigali attest,” Hudson writes.   ”So why should either Congress or the White House be afraid of Catholic criticism of the health care bills as they now stand? Yes, the USCCB has made its official statements, but there's no great roar of opposition to the prospect of federally funded abortion services as a part of universal health care.” However, there is some good news, according to Richard Doeflinger, associate director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. The two-month delay in voting on the bill gives citizens ample time to discover the truth for themselves. "Right now, these bills are a moving target,” Doeflinger told the National Catholic Register. “But we will stay on top of it and continue to educate the public."   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®