There is no question that the debate
about abortion rights has interrupted and undermined the push for
Indeed, the refusal to support
President Obama's proposal by a handful of House Democrats who
oppose a woman's right to choose has emerged as a serious roadblock.
Were it not for the demands of
Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak and a few of his allies in the
House Democratic Caucus -- who want to include anti-choice language
so extreme that it would undermine the reproductive rights even of
women who pay for their own insurance -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
would already have the 216 votes she needs to pass the legislation
being promoted by President Obama.
The rejectionist stance of
Stupak and other Democrats who represent urban and rural districts
with large Roman Catholic populations has been encouraged by the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which has
taken an especially hard-line stance in analyzing reform proposals.
The bishops are actually
supporters of broad health-care reform. Indeed, last summer, the
USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development sent a
statement to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate sdeclaring
that "health care is not a privilege but a right and a requirement
to protect the life and dignity of each person."
That was the right line.
Two months later,
in a letter to members of Congress,
the three bishops leading the USCCB's monitoring of the health-care
reform process restated that view, arguing that: "Catholic moral
tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential
to protecting human life and dignity."
However, they added a codicil:
Noting committee votes that had rejection of sweeping anti-abortion
language -- which would have gone further than existing law or
practice -- the bishops wrote: "If acceptable language in these
areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill
And so they did, creating the
opening for the draconian Stupak amendment to the House legislation
and setting up the current impasse.
Now, however, new Catholic
voices have entered the debate, adding nuance and character to the
On Wednesday, an influential
retired bishop announced his support for Obama's proposal. Retired
Bishop John E. McCarthy of Austin, Texas, recalled his personal
opposition to abortion rights but noted that Obama's proposal would
maintain existing restrictions on the use of taxpayer funds to pay
for the procedure.
While he acknowledged that many
bishops would like to extend those restrictions even further, Bishop
McCarthy noted that the church has for four decades advocated for
health care for all.
Arguing that Obama's
proposal moves the country in the durection of that goal, the Texas
let's not kill it at this crucial moment."
And he's not alone.
The nuns are stepping up.
On Wednesday, NETWORK, the
national Catholic social justice lobby, announced that some 60
leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns --
including many in Wisconsin -- would begin actively lobbying for
passage of the reform legislation as Obama has outlined it.
Arguing that "despite false
claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer
funding for elective abortions," the nuns advanced the view that
providing more health-care services to vulnerable women -- as the
bill does -- "is the real pro-life stance."
Here's the letter from the
We write to urge you to
cast a life-affirming "yes" vote when the Senate health care
bill (H.R. 3590) comes to the floor of the House for a vote as
early as this week. We join the Catholic Health Association of
the United States (CHA), which represents 1,200 Catholic
sponsors, systems, facilities and related organizations, in
saying: the time is now for health reform AND the Senate bill is
a good way forward.
As the heads of major
Catholic women's religious order in the United States, we
represent 59,000 Catholic Sisters in the United States who
respond to needs of people in many ways. Among our other
ministries we are responsible for running many of our nation's
hospital systems as well as free clinics throughout the country.
We have witnessed
firsthand the impact of our national health care crisis,
particularly its impact on women, children and people who are
poor. We see the toll on families who have delayed seeking care
due to a lack of health insurance coverage or lack of funds with
which to pay high deductibles and co-pays. We have counseled and
prayed with men, women and children who have been denied health
care coverage by insurance companies. We have witnessed early
and avoidable deaths because of delayed medical treatment.
The health care bill
that has been passed by the Senate and that will be voted on by
the House will expand coverage to over 30 million uninsured
Americans. While it is an imperfect measure, it is a crucial
next step in realizing health care for all. It will invest in
preventative care. It will bar insurers from denying coverage
based on pre-existing conditions. It will make crucial
investments in community health centers that largely serve poor
women and children. And despite false claims to the contrary,
the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective
abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections
and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in
support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and
we as Catholics are all for it.
Congress must act. We
are asking every member of our community to contact their
congressional representatives this week. In this Lenten time, we
have launched nationwide prayer vigils for health care reform.
We are praying for those who currently lack health care. We are
praying for the nearly 45,000 who will lose their lives this
year if Congress fails to act. We are also praying for you and
your fellow Members of Congress as you complete your work in the
coming days. For us, this health care reform is a faith mandate
for life and dignity of all of our people.
We urge you to vote
"yes" for life by voting yes for health care reform in H.R.
For a list of signers,
which also features details of the endorsement of the Senate bill by
the Catholic Health Association and a statement from the Catholic
social justice lobby that reads:
NETWORK has been a strong
faith advocate for healthcare reform for many years, and is on
record supporting passage of the current bill. Like Sister Carol
Keehan, we acknowledge that the current bill is not perfect, but
it is a highly significant first step toward making healthcare
available to millions of people who cannot afford coverage. We
also agree with those who state that increased access to
healthcare will reduce abortion rates. Maintaining the status
quo will keep those rates higher while many people will also be
denied lifesaving medical care. This is the opposite of prolife,
and our nation deserves better.
It is time to move beyond
politics and grandstanding. We need healthcare reform now.
Pro-Abortion Activist Challenges
Pro-Life Bart Stupak in Democratic Primary
Excerpt from an article
by Steven Ertelt LifeNews.com Editor
March 16, 2010
DC (LifeNews.com) -- A Michigan pro-abortion activist who is upset that Bart
Stupak has stood strong against abortion funding in the Senate health care
bill is putting together a credible primary election challenge against the
pro-life Democrat. Connie Saltonstall has already received pro-abortion
support for the race.
Saltonstall is making abortion the sole reason for her candidacy for
Michigan's 1st District of Congress.
"I believe that [Stupak] has a right to
his personal, religious views, but to deprive his constituents of needed
health care reform because of those views is reprehensible," she said of him
opposing forcing taxpayers to fund abortions.
Saltonstall ran for state
representative in 2008 and was a Charlevoix County commissioner in 2006.
She taught fourth grade in the
Charlevoix Schools and in 1978 was elected to the Charlevoix Board of
Education, then appointed to the Michigan Association of School Boards
Taxation Committee and recently completed a three-year term on the
Charlevoix County Commission on Aging.
That background makes her a competitive
candidate as does her support from NOW, the national pro-abortion women's
"Saltonstall is a strong supporter of
the full range of feminist issues, including reproductive justice,
affirmative action, pay equity, constitutional equality and equal marriage
rights," NOW said yesterday backing Stupak.
"Saltonstall is a strong supporter of
the full range of feminist issues, including reproductive justice" and "more
specifically, she is in favor of repealing the Hyde Amendment," NOW added.
In a new interview with The Hill,
Stupak says it has been especially tough on him -- a “living hell" he says
-- advocating the pro-life position within the pro-abortion Democratic
He's received tons of emails, calls and
faxes from pro-abortion stalwarts blasting him for standing up for his
pro-life convictions and his wife has unplugged their home phone because of
“All the phones are unplugged at our
house — tired of the obscene calls and threats. She won't watch TV,” Stupak
told The Hill. “People saying they're going to spit on you and all this.
That’s just not fun.”
“I'm a little surprised,” Stupak said
about his becoming a household name for opposing abortion funding.
“In the past, we've always been able to
work it out,” he said. “This is the first time we've not been able to work
“I'm pretty stubborn,” said Stupak
about not letting up.
Related web sites:
Stupak for Congress -