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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Commentary: Catholic Politicians Face a Clear Choice in Health Care Debate

    I know it is not up to me to decide these things, but I think this is a very important post, so please bear with me.

    I am involved in the political health care debate every day here in Washington DC, and have been for months.

    The end game for this process is now in sight, so I can write with confidence about something which has been in the back of my mind for some time now.

    If the Democrat health care reform passes, it will pass with three major votes. The first one has already been taken: it was the vote on November 7th when the democrat majority passed health care reform in the House.

    Before that vote was taken, however, the pro-abortion provisions of the bill were fixed by the Stupak amendment. This means that Catholic politicians could claim they were voting for a "pro-life bill."

    But they cannot make the same claim for the next two votes, because this Tuesday Democrat Senators defeated their version of the Stupak amendment (named the Nelson amendment)

    This means future votes to push forward the health care reform are pro-abortion votes, and monumental ones at that.

    The US Bishops, as soon as the Senate pro-life amendment failed, expressed their "deep disappointment" at the news. Cardinal George, the President of the US Bishops, wrote this week:
    "Failure to exclude abortion funding will turn allies into adversaries and require us and others to oppose this bill because it abandons both principle and precedent.”
    It should be remembered that the US bishops have stated on numerous occasions that if the final health care bill does not include Hyde language (represented by the Stupak amendment in the House, and the Nelson amendment in the Senate), then the US Bishops and all serious Catholics must oppose the final bill.

    As I have said, two more votes are required, one in the Senate, and one in the House, before this health care bill goes to President Obama's desk.

    First, as early as Wednesday or Thursday of next week, US Senators will vote to pass their version of health care reform. Second, perhaps before Christmas, the House will vote to confirm the bill passed by the Senate, at which point it will go to President Obama.

    I fully expect the final version of the Senate bill to remain pro-abortion. Furthermore, it is widely being reported that the House will get no chance to address abortion funding in the legislation before it is put to a simple Yes/No vote, which will deliver it to President Obama.

    This means that, in all likelihood, before Christmas, all Catholic members of both the Senate and House will cast a definitive vote for or against the largest single expansion of abortion access and federal funding since Roe v. Wade.

    We have seen isolated cases of brave bishops calling Catholic politicians to task for their support of pro-abortion health care legislation (Bishop Tobin comes first to mind).

    What will be the fallout, I wonder, if Catholics cast the critical votes to authorize this horribly anti-life legislation? Senator Bob Casey in the Senate could be a chief architect in allowing the pro-abortion bill to leave the Senate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is eager to rubber-stamp that same pro-abortion legislation in the House.

    This scenario leaves three urgent questions:
    • Will Catholic politicians defy the clear moral exhortation of their bishops and pass this anti-life legislation?
    • Will Catholic bishops, who have already bravely defended the interests of unborn children in this debate, continue to take the needed pastoral measures to defend the unborn?
    • Will serious Catholics, who elect these politicians, and wield influence over them, be active in helping them make the right choice and form their consciences objectively?
    It's not up to me to decide these things, but I know where my prayers, hope and actions will be in these next critical weeks. I now I can do three effective things:
    • I can contact my elected representatives through the USCCB action website here.
    • I can also contact my local bishop and (respectfully) ask that he continue to do everything in his power to defend the rights of the unborn through his influence and authority.
    • I can finally - and most importantly - pray and fast for the plight of the unborn this Advent.
    (There is a fourth thing you can do - please help me spread this important message to your Catholic friends via blogs, email, facebook, etc., so we all know what the stakes are as soon as possible.)

    As we prepare to welcome the child Jesus into our hearts this Christmas, let us take concrete and immediate action to see that every unborn child has room at the Inn of the World today.

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