As Congress heads toward its August recess, Washington is questioning whether the Democrat Congress and President Obama will be able to pass a healthcare bill this year. Most of the attention thus far has focused on the hundreds of billions in new taxes, the control board the government will set up, the escalting costs of the plans, etc.
But the most interesting pushback, at least for me, is from many quarters of the Catholic Church.
Raymond Arroyo over at EWTN recently posted a very helpful summary of what the Church’s major objections would be to Obamacare as it is coming together. They include:
- Federal funding of abortion and/or federal requirements that all insurance plans cover abortion on demand
- Lack of any meaningful rights of conscience for health care providers. Without this, doctors and nurses could be compelled to perform abortions, issue contraceptives, sterilize, euthanize, etc.
- A chilling requirement for Medicare beneficiaries to go into end of life counseling every five years. The idea would be to bully them into euthanizing themselves. Old people that linger on are a major driver of health care costs. The most effective rationing is to get rid of old folks.
Any one of these three would be enough to spook most faithful Catholics. All three of them result in a total deal-breaker.
The normally-liberal USCCB (whose staff is dominated by Christian Democrat-like socialists) would ordinarily be expected to support government medicine. After all, they have been full-throatedly behind things like S-CHIP expansion and other government spending. But they are sending out VERY strong signals of concern on this one.
Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Center (NY), who heads up the USCCB division working on the healthcare issue had this to say in a recent letter:
On respecting life and dignity, he said, “No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong.”
After citing protections from public funding of abortion in U.S. law, Bishop Murphy added, “Health care reform cannot be a vehicle for abandoning this consensus which respects freedom of conscience and honors our best American traditions. Any legislation should reflect longstanding and widely supported current policies on abortion funding, mandates and conscience protections because they represent sound morality, wise policy and political reality.”
Getting to 218 in the House with the opposition of the Catholic bishops would be very problematic for Nancy Pelosi. Recently, 19 House Democrats signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi opposing abortion funding in any health care legislation (Democrats for Life even got in on the action on Arroyo’s EWTN show). The Blue Dogs have concerns about cost. Combine all this with the House Republicans (likely to be unanimous in their opposition), and you have a headcount problem for the Democrats.
At the same time, it’s hard to imagine a comprehensive healthcare reform bill passing out of the House of Representatives that doesn’t genuflect at the altar of the culture of death. Just another reason why this issue is going nowhere as we enter the dog days of the August recess.