Time Magazine Blasted, Accuses Bishops of Promoting Pro-Abortion Health Care
by Steven Ertelt
October 19, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Time magazine is coming under fire for a new article from staff writer Amy Sullivan that makes the wild accusation that the nation’s Catholic bishops allowed or supported language in one of the House health care bills that paves the way for government funding of abortions.
As Sullivan tells the story, the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops is guilty of an "inconsistent approach to the issue" of abortion which "created confusion that has hampered Democratic attempts to accommodate their concerns."
The Time staff writer contends a letter from Cardinal Rigali on behalf of the bishops in July tells Congress to oppose "direct funding of abortion" in the health care bill.
Members of a House committee then endorsed the Capps Amendment that allows for indirect funding of abortions — whereby the public sends money to the government that, in turn, pays for abortions.
In a followup letter in August, Cardinal Rigali rejected this approach, saying, "Funds paid into these plans are fungible, and federal taxpayer funds will subsidize the operating budget and provider networks that expand access to abortion."
Sullivan claims the letters are an inconsistency — that the bishops only opposed "direct funding" this summer and came back with opposition to indirect funding as well.
She goes as far as saying the Catholic bishops either misrepresented their position or essentially supported indirect funding of abortions.
"Democrats’ reaction to Rigali’s new stance has been twofold: feelings of frustration that the bishops hadn’t been negotiating in good faith, and a broader confusion over where the bishops actually stood," she writes.
But Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, today came to the defense of the bishops and said neither is true.
He says it is pro-abortion Democrats in the House who are to blame for creating the Capps Amendment and its indirect abortion funding scheme that allows President Barack Obama and his congressional allies to claim they have banned government-financing of abortions when the opposite is true.
"Time magazine’s Amy Sullivan is once again playing her familiar role of assisting the Obama Administration’s smokescreen-generating operations," he told LifeNews.com.
He said Sullivan is "doing her best to assist the Administration and its congressional allies as they press forward with another key element in the pro-abortion public policy agenda. "
"In this case, the end goal of the pro-abortion forces is to establish two big new federal programs that will subsidize abortion on demand, by smuggling these programs into law through the ‘health care reform’ legislation," Johnson explained. "The immediate goal of Sullivan’s latest essay is to try to sow confusion regarding the efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to prevent the enactment of those pro-abortion policies."
"Sullivan’s story has all the earmarks of being planted by Democratic congressional staffers, including those who wrote the pro-abortion Capps Amendment in the first place. Her claims about what players on the pro-life side were doing reflect the distorted claims of key pro-abortion players," Johnson told LifeNews.com.
"Sullivan claims that the USCCB initially implicitly signaled acceptance of language along the lines of the Capps Amendment. That claim is false," he said pointedly.
Johnson said Sullivan failed to note that the first USCCB letter was an endorsement of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, "which was the genuine pro-life amendment that would have prevented the health care bill from subsidizing abortion or insurance coverage of abortion."
"The pro-abortion Capps Amendment had not even been unveiled at the time that the July 29 Rigali letter was sent. Indeed, the Capps Amendment was crafted behind closed doors specifically to undercut the Stupak-Pitts Amendment," he noted. "The Capps Amendment was crafted by pro-abortion congressional staff persons and lobbyists who understood very well that the USCCB was lobbying in favor of the genuine pro-life amendment."
Although Sullivan makes it appear otherwise, Johnson, who is perhaps the most active lobbyist on pro-life issues on Capitol Hill, told LifeNews.com that the "USCCB staff actively lobbied the Energy and Commerce Committee members against the Capps Amendment, and in favor of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment."
Johnson also takes issue with Sullivan’s characterization of the Capps amendment, which he says is badly distorted with a claim that "under the Capps amendment . . . no federal dollars could directly fund abortion procedures."
"That statement is dead wrong," Johnson notes.
"The Capps amendment explicitly authorizes the proposed nationwide insurance program that would be run entirely by the federal government, the ‘public plan,’ to pay for elective abortions," he explained. "The abortionists would be paid by the federal Department of Health and Human Services from funds drawn on a U.S. Treasury account."
In short, under the Capps Amendment, the public plan would indeed "directly fund abortion procedures" with "federal dollars," Johnson says and "those who claim otherwise are misinformed or are engaged in the perpetration of a political hoax."
The misstatement of the Capps Amendment is a departure from an earlier Time magazine story that drew praise from Johnson and pro-life advocates because it correctly identified the health care bills as funding abortions.
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