Religious left unease over the Stupak Amendment
The Stupak-Pitts’s amendment to the U.S. House version of Obamacare would prevent government health plan coverage for abortion, angering Religious Left agencies like the United Methodist Capitol Hill lobby office.
“Our Christian faith and our Wesleyan heritage compels us to stand with those who struggle for wholeness and peace in their lives and believe that all people should have equal access to comprehensive medical care,” i.e. government-funded abortion, insisted a recent “action alert” from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
The United Methodist message to its activists hailed the Speaker Nancy Pelosi-backed legislation in the House as a “major milestone,” even though the church lobby prefers an even more statist “single-payer” system. But the United Methodists lamented that “what should have been a celebratory moment for everyone” had been unpleasantly tarnished by Stupak-Pitts’s “restrictive language” inserted at the “eleventh hour” that “politicized health care and posed the possibility of a tremendous setback for access to comprehensive reproduction health coverage.”
Of course, United Methodists lobbyists are now imploring U.S. Senators not to include a similar “polarizing” abortion funding ban in their health care bill. Is government-funded abortion now a key “Wesleyan” tenet for Methodists?
At a press conference with other Religious left abortion-rights activists, Linda Bales Todd of the United Methodist lobby’s “population project” declared that her agency “acknowledges the varying views on the issue of abortion and the emotional struggles faced by women in situations to consider this medical procedure.” But the “reality, however, is that abortion is legal in the United States, and the position of The United Methodist Church supports access to safe and legal abortion.” Actually, United Methodism’s stance on abortion is more nuanced, recognizing “tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion,” while opposing partial-birth abortion and abortions for gender-selection or birth control. In 2008, the church recognized “the sanctity of unborn human life” and the “sacredness of life and well-being of [both] the mother and the unborn child.” But its ultra-liberal Capitol Hill lobby office insists the church supports unrestricted abortion rights.
“Measures like this [Stupak-Pitts] effectively limit access and delivery of reproductive health care based on one, narrow religious doctrine,” Todd complained, even as she cited her own church’s supposed views to demand government funded abortion. Her press conference was hosted by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), founded by liberal Protestants 40 years ago, with help from the Playboy Foundation, to push for unrestricted abortion with ostensibly religious arguments. Last year, United Methodists narrowly upheld the church’s role in RCRC, with liberal delegates at the church’s governing General Conference emphasizing RCRC’s supposed work to combat AIDS, and with many pro-life African delegates, exhausted by 10 days of debate, having already left the convention floor.
United Methodism, with just under 8 million U.S. members and over 3 million overseas, mostly in Africa, is represented by a host of liberal-dominated official agencies like the Capitol Hill lobby office that often function without accountability. While mostly dependent on church collection plate money, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society also gains rental income from its prominent Capitol Hill Methodist Building, which, along with other assets, originated with Methodism’s old Prohibition-era Temperance Board 90 years ago. Interestingly, current litigation is challenging the lobby office’s exploitation of the temperance endowment fund for political lobbying. The agency also gets funds from outside sources like Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation, which earlier this year granted the board $150,000 to mobilize Methodists to lobby for greater U.S. funding of “international family planning.”
Linda Bales Todd, of course, will preside over the Turner-funded Methodist “family planning” lobby project, titled “Healthy Families, Healthy Planet.” With President Obama’s lifting of U.S. restrictions against funding international abortionist agencies, Todd’s initiative could facilitate more U.S. tax dollars at least indirectly subsidizing abortions overseas. “This year-long effort is to build a strong constituency of United Methodists to support increased funding from the U.S. government for international family planning,” she excitedly explained about the Turner grant. With 200 million people reputedly lacking “family-planning services,” Todd lamented, they are unable to “plan families, space their children, prevent AIDS transmission, unplanned pregnancies and, as a consequence, abortions,” though it’s not clear why Todd would necessarily regret the abortions.
According to their critics, the Roman Catholic bishops virtually imposed a theocracy when backing the Stupak-Pitts amendment, whose prohibition of abortion funding enthrones a “narrow” religious view, Todd insisted. But statist religious perspectives demanding U.S. government-directed health care as an essential human right, including tax-funded abortions, evidently are not theocratic or “narrow.” Supposedly “Wesleyan heritage” supports abortion and represents healthy religious civic involvement, while Roman Catholic pro-life views unacceptably infringe on democracy. Or at least these are the views of the purportedly “Wesleyan” lobbyists on Capitol Hill, who seem as confused about their own heritage as they are about democracy.
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