Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Catholic Double $tandard and the Health Debate

Believe me, I could go on and on and on and on about how outraged I am with the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, I really could. But for this blog, I want to point out something a little different in this health care debate.

For the past few months that abortion has been front and center in the health care debate, a very popular argument being made by social conservatives is “I don’t want my tax dollars paying for abortions!” Great, I get that. I’ve heard you say more ridiculous things, and this, I can actually understand. A lot of people do. This is why the original House bill included a stipulation that would require all plans to separate between private and public dollars in the new system—ensuring federal dollars would not be used to fund abortions.

But that’s too risky, you say? How can we be sure that these dollars are, indeed, separated, and used appropriately? Well... ask the Catholics. They've been doin' it for years.

Catholic organizations have a long standing history of being able to lawfully manage their money to ensure that the money they receive through government funding are not allocated for religious programs (you know…because we at least have to appear to be abiding by the separation of Church and State.) Riddle me this. If they’ve been doing this for years, decades even, why is it that Catholic Bishops are one of the largest opponents of this House compromise? Because they are hypocrites.

Hypocricy exists not only in their opposition to the compromise that would enroll health care providers in the same sort of 'program' to which they subscribe. Oh no, it goes beyond that. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (UCSSB) were the ones who ASKED for the compromise! The UCSSB called for any final health care bill to include "abortion-neutral" policy. In their own words, the USCCB defined abortion-neutral policy as maintaining current policies on funding, mandates, and conscience protections because they " represent sound morality, wise policy and political reality" (RH Reality Check) Of course, however, once the Capps Amendment was introduced, an amendment that did precisely what the USCCB originally called for, they were all of a sudden some of the most out-spoken opponents on "abortion-neutral" policy.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its allies on the Hill distorted facts about these policies, and by distort I mean they ignored/covered up/spoke as if it didn’t exist, sending the message to Americans that the government was attempting to fund abortions and they must be stopped. Right. Well, Congress bought it. And instead of applying a system that has been working between the Church and the Government for decades to health care, they practically banned any and all financial support for medical abortions.

If separation of private and public dollars can work for the Church, it can work for, and save, women’s reproductive rights

Read the collaborative opinion piece by NARAL Pro-Choice President Nancy Keenan and Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, in Politico for more information.

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