Column: Bishops’ concern over health care reform is justified

Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.
Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.

by Michael Schuttloffel

As concerned bishops across the country issue pastoral statements on the subject of health care reform, there has been much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments from some all too familiar quarters.

These are largely the same voices heard last year promising that Barack Obama was the “true” pro-life candidate because of his sensitivity to the entirety of Catholic social justice teaching.

Yes, the same Barack Obama who as president quickly instituted taxpayer financing of organizations that perform abortions abroad, taxpayer financing of embryonic stem-cell research here at home, and began the process of rolling back conscience protections for pro-life doctors and nurses.

Now we are told that bishops should stop hyperventilating about health care reform potentially becoming a vehicle for expanded access to abortion. Despite the fact that the main health care reform bill moving through the House of Representatives plainly provides for taxpayer subsidization of abortion, the president, his congressional allies, and the professional Catholics who promote them insist that no taxpayer dollars will fund abortion.

With all of the evidence to the contrary, we are apparently to take this sola fide — by faith alone. Nearly 500 years after the Council of Trent, Catholics ought to know better.

In July of 2007, candidate Obama told Planned Parenthood, “In my mind reproductive care is essential care. It is basic care, and so it is at the center, and at the heart of the plan that I propose.” A campaign spokesman later confirmed that this phraseology includes abortion, as did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she testified before Congress in April that “reproductive health includes access to abortion.”

We are now to believe that a new health care system devised by President Obama and the pro-abortion congressional leadership, and implemented by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will not spend one penny of taxpayer money on abortion. Of course, we are also to believe that providing coverage to millions of uninsured will not add one penny to the deficit, and $500 billion in politically impossible cuts to Medicare will not impact benefits.

Some are sure that if health care reform legislation can be kept “abortion-neutral” (no small challenge), then there is no danger in expanding government control of health care. But when government is so hostile to our values with respect to unborn life, end of life, and the nature of the family, Catholic cooperation in the aggrandizement of federal power over health care constitutes questionable strategic planning.

Churchill described such naiveté as the “acme of gullibility.” Future Catholics, lobbying to reverse public financing of abortion, may just call it crazy.

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