Pro-Life Advocate: Catholics Must Do More to Remove Abortion From Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 3, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Advocate: Catholics Must Do More to Remove Abortion From Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 3
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Unless Catholic groups and leaders do more, the government-run health care plans Congress is currently considering will require taxpayer-funded abortions and abortion mandates. That’s the view of Deal Hudson, the editor of InsideCatholic, responding to a dustup within the Catholic community.

Three mainstream Catholic groups were criticized last week for not taking a strong enough position against abortion in health care.

And while the nation’s Catholic bishops have written members of Congress twice asking them to keep abortion out of the health care plan, Hudson says a more cohesive national effort is needed to stop it.

"The Congress and the White House have little to fear from the bishops’ official statements opposing the abortion provisions in the health care bill," Hudson writes in an editorial today. "Unlike with President Barack Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame, there is no chorus of bishops’ voices rising in protest against the bill."

Hudson laments that "most of the Catholics in Congress support" the pro-abortion health care bills "and mainstream Catholic organizations like Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association — which some assume speak for the bishops — have also voiced their support."

Hudson’s conclusion?

"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," he writes.

Thus far, Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Policy, wrote a letter July 17 and Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote a followup on July 26, imploring Congress to pass an abortion-neutral health care bill.

Hudson notes an incongruence between those communications and the statements and action alerts Catholic groups are disseminating.

"Many Catholics are asking why Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association are backing a health care bill that two USCCB letters have sharply criticized for its abortion coverage," he writes.

Hudson notes that Roger Playwin, the national executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, claimed the government-run health care bills do not finance abortions.

"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," Hudson explains.

"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 continues. "Yet both Catholic Charities USA and the St. Vincent de Paul Society sent out legislative alerts asking for support for health care reform and did not mention the issue of abortion services."

Hudson says the situation has caused confusion for pro-life Catholics and made it so the pro-life movement’s much-needed opposition to the pro-abortion aspects of the health care bills has been diluted.

"So why should either Congress or the White House be afraid of Catholic criticism of the health care bills as they now stand?" he writes. "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."

"As far as the public’s perception is concerned, the ‘Catholic’ imprimatur on health care reform has come from Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Health Association, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society," he adds.

Hudson says pro-life Catholics must step up during the Congressional recess and make their voices heard against abortion in health care.

"Whether or not abortion services remain in the health care bill will be a definitive test of the bishops’ ability to educate and to put the ‘fear of God’ in the Congress and the White House," Hudson concludes.

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