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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog
We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Catholic Church Intensifies Lobbying as Senate Readies to Cast 1st Vote on Healthcare Reform
The Catholic Church's heavy-handed lobbying to remove abortion coverage from any major health care reform is still center stage as the Senate readies to take its first vote on the issue. Here's a sampling from newspapers around the country:
The PressDemocrat (Santa Rosa, CA.)
From parish pews to the halls of Congress, Catholics are caught up in a debate that challenges their core beliefs on two central tenets: health care for all and protecting the unborn.
The internal tensions are being met with equal amounts of public scrutiny over the church’s efforts to influence health care legislation, bringing harsh criticism from some who accuse church leaders of overstepping their authority.
The church’s official position, advocated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is that federal insurance subsidies contained in any health care legislation be prohibited from funding elective abortion.
The New York Post President Obama’s effort to reform the health-care system could blow up in a holy war with the nation’s Catholic bishops over the historically hot-button issue of abortion.
The Catholic Church claims the Senate bill introduced by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would permit insurance coverage for certain abortions.
By comparison, the church applauds a measure passed by the House of Representatives that calls for a blanket ban on abortion for health plans that receive federal subsidies.
The Senate measure — which has gained the support of the White House — would allow a new government health-insurance plan to cover abortions and let private insurers that receive federal subsidies offer plans that include abortion coverage.
But women seeking abortions would have to foot the bill from their premiums — and not use federal dollars.
In an address that opened the semiannual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, implored 300 fellow bishops to "look for ways to strengthen church unity."
"Since everything and everyone in Catholic communion is truly interrelated," George said, ". . . an insistence on complete independence from the bishop renders a person or institution sectarian, less than fully Catholic."
A top Obama administration official is praising the new Senate health bill's attempt to find a compromise on abortion coverage — even as an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says Sen. Harry Reid's bill is the worst he's seen so far on the divisive issue.
The bishops were instrumental in getting tough anti-abortion language adopted by the House, forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to accept restrictions that outraged liberals as the price for passing the Democratic health care bill.
Reid, D-Nev., now faces a similar choice: Ultimately, he will need the votes of a handful of Democratic senators who oppose abortion to get his bill through. Republicans hoping to block the health bill in the Senate are relishing the Democrats' predicament.
Representative Louise Slaughter has a consistent record advocating abortion rights. So the New York Democrat was stunned recently to receive, for the first time, a letter from a Catholic diocese in western New York, demanding that she explain her vote this month against a health care amendment prohibiting insurance companies from paying for abortions.
“I’m not Catholic. But they [asked] me to explain myself,’’ said Slaughter, who has not answered the request.
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