Last November during a town hall meeting near the Upper Peninsula Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan, an alleged “pro-life” Democrat that recently voted for government funding of abortion, made it clear that he was never going to vote “No” on ObamaCare.
- US Catholic Bishops: Executive Order Deal A Non-Starter:
- In deal with Stupak, White House announces executive order on abortion (Washington Post):
Resolving an impasse with anti-abortion Democrats over the health-care reform legislation, President Obama announced Sunday that he will be issuing an executive order after the bill is passed “that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion,” according to a statement from the White House.
“I’m pleased to announce we have an agreement,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said at a news conference announcing the deal.
- “I think we’re witnessing Bart Stupak write the obit for the concept of the “pro-life Democrat” – Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review).
We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill. We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help members in assessing the options before them:
“One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion. Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Further analysis of the text of the order: Read the rest of this entry »
No one seems to know where Stupak’s head it is at from moment to moment. A facebook friend of mine just sent me a twitter from CNN that reads:
Urgent — Rep. Stupak to CNN producer Lesa Jansen: “I’m still a no…There is no deal yet. Its a work in progress.”
Any “deal” that is acceptable to the radical pro-abortion bloc of Democrats that have threatened to vote “no” on the bill if substantial pro-life guarantees are included is not good enough.
If Stupak agrees to this absurd idea of an executive order, he will set back the cause of pro-life Democrats and disappoint the millions of pro-life Americans who, many for the first time ever, really believed that a pro-life Democrat could accomplish something in Washington.
Update: It’s 1:10 here in CA, and I just heard it from Stupak’s mouth on CSPAN – he’s made the deal. Obamacare will pass. May God have mercy on our souls!
A final letter from the USCCB to each member of the House against the Senate version of ObamaCare. The letter is signed by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, chairman of the USCCB’s committee on pro-life activities, Bishop William Murray, chairman of the USCCB’s committee on domestic justice and human development and Bishop John Wester, chairman of the USCCB’s committe on migration.
For decades, the United States Catholic bishops have supported universal health care. The Catholic Church teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential for human life and dignity. Our community of faith provides health care to millions, purchases health care for tens of thousands and addresses the failings of our health care system in our parishes, emergency rooms and shelters. This is why we as bishops continue to insist that health care reform which truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all is a moral imperative and urgent national priority.
We are convinced that the Senate legislation now presented to the House of Representatives on a “take it or leave it” basis sadly fails this test and ought to be opposed. Why do we take this position, when we have a long record of support for health care reform? Our fundamental objections can be summarized in two points:
Health care reform must protect life and conscience, not threaten them. The Senate bill extends abortion coverage, allows federal funds to pay for elective abortions (for example, through a new appropriation for services at Community Health Centers that bypasses the Hyde amendment), and denies adequate conscience protection to individuals and institutions. Needed health care reform must keep in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy that neither elective abortion nor plans which include elective abortion can be paid for with federal funds. Simply put, health care reform ought to continue to apply both parts of the Hyde amendment, no more and no less. The House adopted this policy by a large bipartisan majority, establishing the same protections that govern Medicaid, SCHIP, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and other federal health programs.
Despite claims to the contrary, the status quo prohibits the federal government from funding or facilitating plans that include elective abortion. The Senate bill clearly violates this prohibition by providing subsidies to purchase such plans. The House bill provided that no one has to pay for other people’s abortions, while this Senate bill does not. While the Senate provides for one plan without abortion coverage in each exchange, those who select another plan in an exchange to better meet the special needs of their families will be required to pay a separate mandatory abortion fee into a fund exclusively for abortions. This new federal requirement is a far more direct imposition on the consciences of those who do not wish to pay for the destruction of unborn human life than anything currently in federal law.
It is not those who require that the Hyde Amendment be fully applied who are obstructing reform, since this is the law of the land and the will of the American people. Rather, those who insist on expanding federal participation in abortion, require people to pay for other people’s abortions, and refuse to incorporate essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context) are threatening genuine reform. With conscience protection as with abortion funding, our goal is simply to preserve the status quo.
Catholics have been preoccupied with the possibility that abortions will be paid for by the government, with their tax dollars, if the Democrats gain the votes required to pass their health care bill on Sunday. While I certainly share this concern, I must say that it appears to be too little, too late. In the first place, federal funds already make up 1/3 of Planned Parenthood’s budget – in 2008, they received 350 million dollars from the federal government. In the second place, given that 46% of private health insurance companies cover abortion, that means many of us have probably been paying for abortions with our own money as we pay our monthly premiums. Of course, if you use Windows, you’ve made Bill Gates a richer man, and Gates gives tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, because he and some of his fellow billionaires are obsessed with population control. Nothing to worry about there.
You might also live in one of the 32 states that fund abortion through Medicaid in the case of rape, incest, or the “health” of the mother, or the 17 states – 13 of which are forced by court orders – to cover all “medically necessary” abortions. If you pay state taxes, you’re already funding abortion with your tax dollars, and you have been for decades. Granted, you haven’t been funding abortion on demand, at least not on paper. In practice, who knows.
Francis Cardinal George, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued a statement explaining why the Bishops are opposed to the Senate version of ObamaCare.
The Cost is too High; the Loss is too Great
The Catholic Bishops of the United States have long and consistently advocated for the reform of the American health care system. Their experience in health care and in Catholic parishes has acquainted them with the anguish of mothers who are unable to afford prenatal care, of families unable to ensure quality care for their children, and of those who cannot obtain insurance because of preexisting conditions.
Throughout the discussion on health care over the last year, the bishops have advocated a bipartisan approach to solving our national health care needs. They have urged that all who are sick, injured or in need receive necessary and appropriate medical assistance, and that no one be deliberately killed through an expansion of federal funding of abortion itself or of insurance plans that cover abortion. These are the provisions of the long standing Hyde amendment, passed annually in every federal bill appropriating funds for health care; and surveys show that this legislation reflects the will of the majority of our fellow citizens. The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected.
However, the bishops were left disappointed and puzzled to learn that the basis for any vote on health care will be the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve. Notwithstanding the denials and explanations of its supporters, and unlike the bill approved by the House of Representatives in November, the Senate bill deliberately excludes the language of the Hyde amendment. It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures. In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born.
What do the bishops find so deeply disturbing about the Senate bill? The points at issue can be summarized briefly. The status quo in federal abortion policy, as reflected in the Hyde Amendment, excludes abortion from all health insurance plans receiving federal subsidies. In the Senate bill, there is the provision that only one of the proposed multi-state plans will not cover elective abortions – all other plans (including other multi-state plans) can do so, and receive federal tax credits. This means that individuals or families in complex medical circumstances will likely be forced to choose and contribute to an insurance plan that funds abortions in order to meet their particular health needs.
Further, the Senate bill authorizes and appropriates billions of dollars in new funding outside the scope of the appropriations bills covered by the Hyde amendment and similar provisions. As the bill is written, the new funds it appropriates over the next five years, for Community Health Centers for example (Sec. 10503), will be available by statute for elective abortions, even though the present regulations do conform to the Hyde amendment. Regulations, however, can be changed at will, unless they are governed by statute.