Thursday, March 18, 2010

Catholics Split on ObamaCare

At Fox News, "Holy War Erupts Among Catholics Over Abortion Language in Health Care Bill":

The abortion language in President Obama's health care reform bill has ignited something of a holy war among Catholics, who are sharply divided on whether the legislation would allow the government to subsidize the termination of pregnancies.

While groups representing Catholic hospitals and liberal nuns have come out in support of the bill in recent days, other groups representing Catholic bishops and other nuns have denounced it, saying the bill contains restrictions on abortion funding that don't go far enough.

The White House has touted the support of a group of liberal Catholic nuns in an effort to win over conservative House Democrats who believe the final health care bill they will vote on contains restrictions on abortion funding that they and Catholic bishops say don't go far enough.

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who has led the charge to include in the final bill the tougher anti-abortion language passed last November by the House, derided the White House for touting the nuns' support.

"When I'm drafting right-to-life language, I don't call up nuns," he said. Instead, he said he confers with other groups, including "leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee."
See also LAT, "Nuns in U.S. Back Healthcare Bill despite Catholic Bishops' Opposition":
Their numbers and influence may be declining, but American nuns demonstrated Wednesday what generations of schoolchildren already knew: They are a force to be reckoned with.

By sending a letter to Congress in support of the Senate healthcare bill, a wide coalition of nuns took sides against not only the Republican minority but against their own church hierarchy, as represented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes the bill. The nuns' letter contributed to the momentum in favor of the legislation, despite opposition that is partially rooted in a disagreement over abortion funding.

"We agree that there shouldn't be any federal funding of abortion," said Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of Network, a national Catholic social justice advocacy organization that spearheaded the effort. "From our reading of the bill, there isn't any federal funding of abortion."

Moreover, she said, the reverence for life that underpins Catholic opposition to abortion also argues for passage of healthcare reform.

"For us, first of all, tens of thousands of people are dying each year because they don't have access to healthcare, so that is a life issue," said Campbell, who is affiliated with an Encino-based order, the Sisters of Social Service.

She said Network, which has long supported healthcare reform, drafted the letter within hours of hearing that the Catholic Health Assn., which represents about 600 hospitals, had come out in favor of the bill last week. The letter was signed by the leaders of more than 50 Catholic women's orders and organizations, including the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which says it represents more than 90% of the 59,000 American Catholic nuns.
More news at Memeorandum.