Archive for the ‘consistent ethic of life’ Category

Outrage: ‘Pro-Life’ Old Guard Attempts to Strangle the Pro-Life Democrat Movement in its Crib

April 22, 2010

Yesterday I blogged about the entrenched, old-guard pro-choice interests freaking out about the new magenta movement which combines abortion with other social justice issues, but today I read that the same thing is happening with old-guard pro-lifers.  Groups claiming to be ‘pro-life’ are now showing their true colors:

Anti-abortion groups are poised to launch a multimillion-dollar offensive against a collection of former allies — House Democrats who also oppose abortion — in an effort to discredit their credibility with anti-abortion voters and oust them from office.

Four separate campaigns are in the works, aimed at anti-abortion House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and designed around the notion that those Democrats signed on to legislation that lacked restrictions ensuring that federal funds would not be spent to provide coverage for abortions.

Some of the targeted members — largely, though not exclusively, vulnerable and junior Democrats — voted for the bill after Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) cut a deal with the White House that President Barack Obama would sign an executive order ensuring that the bill would not provide such funding.

This week, the Family Research Council Action political action committee announced that it would spend $500,000 targeting 20 House Democrats — many of them freshmen from districts with a high concentration of voters who oppose abortion.

This despite the the fact that:

Some in the anti-abortion movement conceded that attacking their longtime Democratic collaborators — who have a small but influential role within the House majority — hasn’t been easy.

McClusky, for his part, acknowledged that in taking on Mollohan, a longtime ally who holds a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, the anti-abortion movement risked alienating a friend.

“The last thing we want to do is take out an Appropriations Committee member who was on our side,” said McClusky. “And the last thing we want to do is to take out a Democrat on our side.”

Ya think?

That they still see some kind of essential link between their movement and that of the Republican party not only reveals where the old-guard pro-lifers get butter for their bread, but it also where their true loyalties lie.  Rather than being authentically pro-life, they are more fundamentally socially conservative.  And their idolatry with regard to outdated political categories means that abortion will continue to exploit the most vulnerable persons in our society: our prenatal children and their mothers.  And especially the poor.

Simply an outrage.

Advertisements

A Pro-Life Victory

March 22, 2010

The passage of health care reform (something which, incidentally, I don’t think I’ve fully processed yet) is, on multiple levels, a pro-life victory.   The dozens of millions of vulnerable persons who have little to no hope in their illness will be brought into the community of persons provided for by our health care system.  It doesn’t get more pro-life than that.

And mostly due to the heroic efforts of pro-life democrats like Bart Stupak this bill is a pro-life victory on the abortion front as well.  As I’ve mentioned several times before on this blog, even the original House bill (which the US Bishops supported) funded abortions, so what was left was jockeying for political and legislative points to make it as baby-friendly as possible.   What the pro-lifers got out of this battle was simply extraordinary: not only the Senate bill’s abortion language (which was actually not bad at all), but a public executive order–full of pro-life language stigmatizing abortion as something other than ‘normal’ health care–that has not only powerful symbolic force but also the bite of actual public policy:

The fact is, this is a very big deal.  Although the Hyde Amendment is repeatedly renewed, it is not a law on the books per se.  It must be renewed each year as part of the budget.  This means that every year we have the opportunity to get rid of it (although we have as yet been unsuccessful).  An executive order, in contrast, would put these provisions on the books until it is rescinded.  It is much harder to rescind an executive order than to change language that must be inserted in the budget yearly.  Really, what president would stick his neck out for the 1/3 of women who will need abortions?  If we are to be guided by history, nobody.

What the whole health care reform process symbolized and demonstrated is a larger movement away from our old categories and toward a consistent ethic of life.  Those on the extremes–who either (1) want to see abortion treated similarly to any other kind of medical procedure, or (2) make anti-abortion arguments while rejecting broader concern for the vulnerable (characterized perfectly by the republican who called Bart Stupak a ‘baby killer’ on the House floor yesterday)–are being pushed to the margins.

The complex, magenta reality is finally starting to push through.  And it’s about time.

Abortion and Health Care Reform: What’s Past is Prologue

March 4, 2010

If it feels like we’ve been here before, its because we have:

A dozen House of Representatives Democrats opposed to abortion are willing to kill President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan unless it satisfies their demand for language barring the procedure, Representative Bart Stupak said on Thursday.

“Yes. We’re prepared to take responsibility,” Stupak said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when asked if he and his 11 Democratic allies were willing to accept the consequences for bringing down healthcare reform over abortion.

“Let’s face it. I want to see healthcare. But we’re not going to bypass the principles of belief that we feel strongly about,” he said.

We’ve been back and forth on the arguments surrounding this complicated set of issues pretty thoroughly on this blog, but let’s just pause for a minute to think again about how extraordinary this situation is.  Pro-Life democrats now hold the power to derail health care reform in their hands and, apparently, are willing to stick to their principles.  The broader democratic party–and the Obama administration–have a question to answer: are they going to let health care die in order to pacify members of their party who not only want to see abortion as a privacy right, but as something that can be covered in a federally managed and subsidized insurance exchange?

The decision they reach will impact not only health care reform (a monstrous issue in itself), but also the very identity of their party.  Will they retreat toward being the party of Planned Parenthood and NARAL, or will they continue to move in the direction of Bob Casey and Bart Stupak?   That is, in the direction of those that want to protect both the very young and those without health insurance?

That is, in the direction of a consistent ethic of life.

Health Care Reform on the Brink: Stupak Takes Off the Gloves

December 22, 2009

Well, we’ve been waiting to hear from him, and now he tells us in no uncertain terms:

Rep. Stupak: “So we’re getting a lot of pressure not to say anything, to try to compromise this principle or belief, and we’re just not – that’s just not us, I mean, we’re not going to do that. Members who voted for the Stupak language in the House – especially the Democrats, 64 Democrats that voted for it – feel very strongly about it. It’s been part of who we are, part of our make up. It’s the principle belief that we have. We are not just going to abandon it in the name of health care.”

CNSNews.com: “So, to go back and ask you again, do you have the votes needed to stop the bill, if it comes to that?”

Rep. Stupak: “Well, if all the issues are resolved and we’re down to the pro-life view or, I should say, no public funding for abortion, there’s at least 10 to 12 members who have said repeatedly, unless this language is fixed and current law is maintained and no public funding for abortion, they’re not gonna’  vote for the bill. There’s 10 or 12 of us — they only passed the bill by 3 votes, so they’re going to be short 8 to 9, maybe 6 to 8 votes. So they do not have the votes to pass it in the House.”

He has now said it publicly.  He and several other pro-life democrats are prepared to kill health care reform in order to make sure no federally administered and subsidized insurance  exchange provides abortion coverage.  Is the party itself ready to kill health care reform–and essentially fall on its own political sword–to make NARAL and Planned Parenthood happy?  Who are the democrats and will they get on the side of a consistent ethic of life as public opinion shifts in that direction?

Given the push to get the bill passed by the President’s State of the Union speech in late January, the coming weeks will be interesting indeed!

Letter from the US Bishops on Health Care Reform

December 16, 2009

The US Catholic Bishops, major providers of health care in the United Sates, (and supporters of the ‘liberal’ bill proposals in Congress) have sent a letter to the Senate showing the hypocrisy of voting against amendments like Stupak/Nelson (sorry this is a bit long, but worth it):

The central argument against the Nelson amendment, voiced during floor debate by many
Senators, was that this amendment goes too far by barring federal subsidies to entire
health plans that include abortion coverage. The three-decades-long precedent of the
Hyde amendment and similar provisions governing all other federal health programs, it
was claimed, is this: Federal funds may not be used “directly” for an elective abortion,
but non-Federal funds such as private premium dollars may be used in the same health
plan for such abortions.1 The underlying health care reform bill was said to respect this
tradition by “segregating” funds with plans to allow “private” funding of abortion. It was
chiefly on the basis of this argument that the Nelson amendment was tabled

However, yesterday’s overwhelming vote to approve the Consolidated Appropriations
Act creates a new situation. In that vote, almost all Democrats, including almost
every Senator who claimed the Nelson amendment’s policy goes too far, voted in
favor of that exact policy. For these Senators voted to retain the actual current
language of the Hyde amendment, and of the parallel provision governing abortion in the
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program – and that language clearly requires a policy
in all other federal health programs that is identical to that of the Nelson amendment.
Here is the language of the Nelson amendment that Senators claimed was new and
unprecedented:

1 No abortion provision at issue forbids funding abortions (or plans including abortion) when the mother’s life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest; these exceptions are not at issue and will not be included in quotes from the provisions. Abortions not covered by these exceptions are here called “elective” abortions.
2 No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.

Here is the Hyde amendment, governing all current programs funded by the Labor/HHS
appropriations bill, which the Senate just voted to reaffirm:

None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in any trust
fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for any
abortion…. None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in
any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for
health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion…. The term “health
benefits coverage” means the package of services covered by a managed care
provider or organization pursuant to a contract or other arrangement.
(H.R. 3288 as approved by the Senate on December 13, Division D, sec. 508;
emphasis added)

The Hyde amendment states further that it does not prevent use of state, local or private
funds for abortions, as long as these are separate from the state matching funds that
combine with federal funds to purchase a benefits package. In other words, not only
federal funds, but other funds used to purchase the same package, may not pay for
elective abortions.

Here is the parallel provision governing the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program,
which the Senate also approved yesterday:

No funds appropriated by this Act shall be available to pay for an abortion, or
the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan under the
Federal employees health benefits program which provides any benefits or
coverage for abortions.
(H.R. 3288 as approved by the Senate on December 13, Division C, sec. 613;
emphasis added)

Neither of these longstanding provisions says anything about “segregating” private and
federal funds within a health plan or benefits package. Attempts to achieve such
segregation are irrelevant to current policy, which bars federal funds from being used for
any part of a package that covers elective abortions.

Literally the only substantive difference between these noncontroversial and widely
supported provisions and the Nelson amendment is that the latter explains at length that
(a) it does not prevent purchasers who do not receive federal subsidies from buying a
health plan including elective abortions, even on the Exchange created by the health care
reform bill, and (b) it does not prevent purchasers receiving federal subsidies from buying
separate supplemental abortion coverage with their own funds.

What this means substantively is that the democratic opposition to Stupak/Nelson-like amendments is a disingenuous political ploy.  They really don’t have principled opposition, but rather this is the kind of public face they have to put forward to keep NARAL and Planned Parenthood happy.  While frustrating, the fact that they really ultimately don’t care about the principle might make a ‘manager’s amendment’ which brought back this kind of language that much more likely to get through.  Again, whether or not this happens–especially if Senators Nelson and Casey steel their spines and insist on it–will be a major turning point in the self-definition of the democratic party.

And it might be the basis of the only remaining problematic opposition to the bill as both the public option and medicare buy-in appear to be dead.  More drama to  come.

A Lack of Will from Senator Casey?

December 10, 2009

While it is true that (as mentioned below) there could be a manager’s amendment snuck in at the last minute with Stupak-like language, and this is the reason for their equivocation about pro-life language in the Senate Health Care Reform Bill, I begin to worry more and more that this is simply a lack of will on the part of Senators Nelson and especially Casey.  Consider this statement from Senator Casey:

Yet in the debate over health-care reform, Casey’s pro-life voice has been muted. He has done nothing more for the unborn than do as he did yesterday in voting for the Nelson anti-abortion amendment. He has not said he will hold up the legislation if it contains indirect funding of abortion. As he said recently, “I just think that there’s going to be enough momentum to get a bill passed that one issue – even a very important issue – will not prevent passage.”

Momentum?  Senator, if you have the will to filibuster this bill you (all by yourself) will force the dems to put in Stupak like language….much like Lieberman, all by himself, forced out the public option with a filibuster threat.   Letting health care reform fail for reasons  that will be painted in the midterm elections as selling out to pro-abortion rights extremism will be political suicide.  Especially for a country that now describes itself as pro-life (with the arrow continuing to point up) and that has the exploding magenta phenomenon of the ‘pro-life democrat’ (over a quarter of the Democratic caucus voted for Stupak).  Senators Casey and Nelson must act like their colleagues in the House; they must steel their spines in the confidence of this growing movement and the seize a moment to pass health care reform in a way that protects all  vulnerable members of the human family.  Those ‘liberals’ who default into a mantra of choice and privacy (which ignores and therefore sacrifices the vulnerable to the interests of the powerful) are losing ground and they are losing the public debate.  Now is no time for weak knees in the face of ‘momentum’.  Now is the time for confidence.  You hold all the cards.

Contact Senators Casey (PA) and Nelson (NE) and tell them to keep the pressure on.  And tell others (especially their constituents)  to do the same.