Catholic Bishops Join Pro-Life Groups Against Abortion-Executive Order Idea

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 21, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Join Pro-Life Groups Against Abortion-Executive Order Idea

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 21
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The pro-life office of the nation’s Catholic bishops has join other pro-life groups in condemning an 11th-hour strategy that would have pro-life Democrats support the pro-abortion Senate health care bill in exchange for President Barack Obama issuing an executive order banning abortion funding in it.

Leading pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak is pursuing the executive order because he wants to ban abortion funding under the bill but also because he wants to be able to eventually vote for it.

The main objections from pro-life advocacy groups center on two points.

First, they have sincere doubts about whether Obama, who has an extensive pro-abortion track record and used an executive order during his first week in office to expand taxpayer funding of abortions, would ever sign one.

Secondly, they point out technical problems with the idea, saying an executive order is not able to remedy the numerous ways in which the Senate bill funds and promotes abortion funding.

Richard Doerflinger, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, shared those concerns in a memo sent this morning to key Congressional members and staff.

"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," Doerflinger says.

"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," Doerflinger explains.

"According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding," Doerflinger continues. "That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year."

Agreeing with other pro-life groups, the pro-life bishops’ spokesman adds: "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."

As such, only changes in the Senate bill would truly prevent taxpayers from having their tax monies paying for abortions under it.

"Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation," the bishop’s spokesman concluded.

Earlier, leading pro-life advocates say an executive order is a non-starter because it can’t fix the myriad of pro-abortion problems with the bill.

"It should be noted that all of the problems listed in the NRLC letter — with the possible exception of no. 5 (pro-abortion administrative mandates) — would be created by and controlled by the proposed statutory language of H.R. 3590," Douglas Johnsn of National Right to Life told "If the bill is signed into law, these statutory requirements and defects are not subject to correction or nullification by the chief executive or his appointees, whether by Executive Order, regulation, or otherwise."

And the Family Research Council released a letter saying it opposed the idea.

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