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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


    Monday, January 04, 2010

    Politics: Democrats may skip procedures to push through health care legislation


    I'm sure we're all very busy as we jump back into work and school this week.

    Things are moving, however, on the health care front, and we should keep up to speed.

    The latest from Steve Ertelt at LifeNews:
    Congressional Democrats are seriously examining the possibility of skipping the formal conference committee process in an attempt to railroad the pro-abortion health care bill through the House and Senate. Bypassing the normal process may allow them to skip procedural votes that could hold up or kill the bill.
    With both chambers approving different bills -- a House version doesn't fund abortions while a Senate version does -- Democrats have to create a bill that both chambers can approve and send to President Barack Obama.
    Typically a formal conference committee with members from both chambers and both parties formally meet to resolve the differences.
    Instead, Democrats may work informally to craft a final bill and Democratic aides tell the New Republican that is "almost certain" to happen.
    Michelle Malkin points out that in 2006, when political fortunes were reversed, Democrats fiercely opposed a technique they now are attempting to take advantage of themselves.

    Meanwhile, we cannot forget the shame of Catholic politicians pushing for this anti-life legislation. Deal Hudson is undertaking the thankless task of naming the names and keeping track of where politicians stand on this critical issue.

    In other news, look for my long-awaited big news within the next 24 hours....

    Thanks for your patience - I hope it will be rewarded!

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    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Stupaks says White House trying to keep him quiet on abortion problems


    Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said the White House and the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives have been pressuring him not to speak out on the "compromise" abortion language in the Senate version of the health care bill.

    “They think I shouldn’t be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language,” Stupak told CNSNews.com in an interview on Tuesday. “Well, I don’t need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with it. I know what it says. I don’t need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me here.”
    Remember, only a year ago, when some Catholics were promising that Obama would be a "pro-life" President?

    Now, after having lied time and time again that the health care bill he would be willing to sign did not include federal money to pay for abortions, Obama and his staff are pressuring a pro-life Democrat to keep quiet about his judgement that the current health care bill does in fact do that.

    We should remember this harsh lesson the next time we are tempted to believe the arguments of liberal Catholics who are more guided by their political views than their Catholic moral principles.

    Kathleen Sebelius, meanwhile, the pro-abortion head of the deparment of Health and Human Services who will receive huge, sweeping powers if the current health care bill is approved, as FRC reports, "in a new video uncovered today, [she] praises Nelson's language, because, according to the woman in charge of these reforms, it ensures that everyone will pay for abortion--no matter how the funds are divided up."

    The American bishops, for their part, have sent a second letter to members of Congress saying the current health care bill is "deficient" and should not move forward without "essential changes."

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    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Breaking: Nelson caves, Senate passes pro-abortion bill tonight


    I've been deluged with emails this weekend keeping me up to date on the rapid developments taking place in the health care debate.

    The most important news to absorb is that Senator Nelson - at this point - has caved and is promising to support Senator Reid's pro-abortion bill when it is voted upon at 1AM tonight {update - he did cave and became the 60th and final vote for Reid's pro-abortion bill.}

    He refused to listen to pro-life groups who were attempting to support him, opting instead to strike a backroom deal with Senator Reid which saves his state of Nebraska $100 million over the next decade, as I report on the APP blog.

    Others have noted the implications of Nelson's "sweetheart" deal:
    "Deacon Keith Fournier describes this as Nelson’s “bag of silver.”  Fournier explains, “If Senator Ben Nelson actually sold his vote for a bag of silver for Nebraska then this has become a ‘Judas moment’ not a ‘Thomas More moment’ and its implications are evil.”
    The Casey-Nelson solution is unacceptable. The National Right to Life Committee is crystal clear :
    "The manager’s amendment [= Casey-Nelson compromise] is light years removed from the Stupak-Pitts Amendment that was approved by the House of Representatives on November 8 by a bipartisan vote of 240-194.  The new abortion language solves none of the fundamental abortion-related problems with the Senate bill, and it actually creates some new abortion-related problems."
    The message from the US bishops, when briefed about Nelson's decision, is uncompromising:
    The Senate health reform bill should not move forward in its current form, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City said December 19, as senators proceeded closer to a vote.
    ... [the bill] should be opposed unless and until such serious concerns have been addressed. The bishops' conference continues to study that 383-page amendment's implications from the perspective of all the bishops' moral concerns -- protection of life and conscience, affordable access to health care, and fairness to immigrants.
    Deal Hudson - who has been very active in this debate through his new innitiative the Catholic Advocate - picks up on an argument I made last week during my EWTN appearance last week: "A Vote for Cloture Is a Vote for Abortion" (basically, anyone who votes for the current legislation is voting to create and expand federal sponsorship of abortion, in opposition to long-standing policy). Deal also writes :

    The fight over federal funding for abortion will now move back to the House where 62 Democrats voted for the Stupak-Pitts amendment — it remains to be seen how many of those Democrats will follow in the footsteps of Sen. Ben Nelson.
    Once again the bright light will fall on Cong. Bart Stupak (D-MI) who stood up against immense pressure last month to get his amendment passed.

    Deal is absolutely right - presuming the bill is passed out of the Senate - everything hinges on Rep. Stupak and his coalition of pro-life Democrats in the House. That's our last cause for hope.

    As further background, the Catholic Health Association came out in support of the Casey-Nelson compromise, and Steven Ertelt picks apart why they probably did so. Shame on them. The Catholic Medical Association, meanwhile, is strongly against the bill. Good for them.


    I will update this post as I find out more information.


    Update 1:15 AM - the Senate ended debate and passed the bill on a party line vote of 60-40. All 58 Democrats and 2 Independents voted on the bill, not a single Republican voted for the bill. Senators Casey and Nelson both supported the pro-abortion bill. A sad day for America and the protection of unborn human life, but the fight is not over.

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    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Video: Catholic Vote's firm reminder to Senator Casey

    Catholic Vote Action (CVA) has released their second ad today (their first ad has well over 250,000 views on YouTube) - this one targeting Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey - who is currently brokering a critical deal on health care reform with Ben Nelson.

    I've written many times before about the high quality content and excellent message of Catholic Vote videos.

    The ad will begin running on FOX News and CNN today and throughout the weekend. Here it is:



    CVA explains their ad in a press release here. They are asking for folks to chip in $10 to help their purchase more air time in these critical next few days.

    If you are living in Pennsylvania, they also include the phone numbers to Senator Casey's offices - as I've mentioned before, this is the single most effective way to influence your elected official.

    The ad is already generating attention, before it hit the airwaves.

    In related news, former PA Senator Rick Santorum has issued a stinging critique of Senator Casey's actions in this debate so far. But it's not too late - that's why we have to focus our attention on helping Casey step up to the plate.

    Marjorie Dannenfelser has issued a personal letter (PDF ) to Sen. Casey, saying she will take down her organization's TV ad against him if he begins to truly advocate a pro-life solution to the abortion-in-healthcare crisis.

    Catholics don't want to score political points in this debate, we want to save babies.

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    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Action: Thank Ben Nelson for his pro-life stand!

    Earlier today I blogged on the "Casey compromise" that Ben Nelson was said to be reviewing. As I noted at the time, numerous pro-life individuals and organizations have declared that the Casey compromise is "unacceptable."

    Now it appears that Nelson has come to the same conclusion , and is standing strong that the abortion language needs to be eliminated.

    Please, if you have a few moments - and especially if you live in Nebraska - use this official email form to thank Senator Nelson for his courage!

    update: the spokesman for the US bishops on life issues, Richard Doerflinger is also against the Casey Compromise, as he told the New York Times today.

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    Pelosi on pro-abortion language in Senate bill: "Thank God"


    From the woman who now claims she has switched to "campaign mode", some injudicious language (oh that's right, she doesn't care):
    [Pelosi said] the Senate bill "doesn't have a public option, doesn't expand Medicare for the (age) 55 to 64 group, and has abortion language that is completely different from the House -- thank God." (LifeNews )
    I'm glad she agrees with pro-life arguments that the Senate bill doesn't have pro-life language. I wonder if she'd like the Casey compromise ?

    Pelosi on - ahem - bi-partisanship:
    [When asked if she thinks she can get enough votes from Democrats to pass the final bill]:
    "I never count on Republicans."
    Rep. Bart Stupak, meanwhile, believes he has 10 to 12 votes on his side that Pelosi needs to eventually pass the health care bill, should it make it out of the Senate with its pro-abortion language intact.

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    Read between the Lies: Catholics United tries to spin the truth

    Deal Hudson is good at picking the right fights, and in this case, he's found an opponent who appears to enjoy shooting himself in the foot, while digging himself a hole, after he's realized he's behind.

    Deal has been talking to US News and World Report blogger Dan Gilgoff, making the simple point that Catholics United is a fake Catholic organization:
    "The same fake Catholic groups that helped President Barack Obama get elected," Hudson writes on his InsideCatholic website , "have rallied to the cause of the health-care bill, abortion funding and all."
    Chris Korzen, the executive director of one of these fake Catholic organizations - Catholics United - wasn't smart enough to stay quiet and lay low. He decided to respond.

    This leaves be with the undesirable - but I think necessary - task of refuting what Korzen wrote, line by tedious line. Here we go (when I write Korzen in bold, that means I'm issuing a direct challenge to him):
    Abortion is legal in the United States, and there's not much either Catholics United or Deal Hudson can do to change that.
    Way to start with an attitude of defeat. Does Korzen think the position of a Catholic organization on the question of abortion should be "we've lost"?
    What we can do is find ways to unite Americans around common ground approaches to abortion, something Hudson and company have consistently opposed doing.
    Korzen: name one example of Deal "and company" doing so. What Deal (and I, and many others, including the US bishops), have repeatedly done, is reject common ground that is actually pro-abortion. Pushing contraception to schoolkids? That's not common ground. Funding Planned Parenthood? That's not common ground. Korzen: name one common ground initiative that you support. Be specific. We'll talk.
    Ensuring that pregnant women and children have insurance coverage should be a no-brainer for Catholics.
    Not if these token provisions are wrapped in 1,000+ pages of government bureaucracy, no conscience clause exemptions, an abortion mandate, significant fears of rationing (especially of the elderly and vulnerable), fiscal irresponsibility, and coercion of religious medical providers and individuals. That should be the no-brainer here, Chris. If these issues don't strike Korzen as causing concern, then he's coming at this from a partisan perspective - not a Catholic one. And Korzen can quote me on that.
    In short, I wouldn't call us pro-abortion rights or anti-abortion rights. We're pro-common ground.
    So Korzen would not call Catholics United "anti-abortion rights." So Korzen: does he support the "anti-abortion" measure of making partial-birth abortions illegal? Korzen: does he support parental notification laws? Korzen: does he not support the funding of crisis pregnancy centers that promote adoptions? After all, all of these can be considered "anti-abortion rights" initiatives. Furthermore, Korzen: what defines, for Catholics United, what is acceptable common ground? Is it the teachings of the Church about the truth and dignity of the human person, or is it political expediency? I'm waiting.
    You'll note that we supported the House bill after the Stupak language was passed, much to the consternation of actual pro-abortion rights groups. . . .
    So Korzen's claim to fame is that his organization managed to do something that the "pro-abortion" groups weren't on board with? That's an extremely strange definition of success. Such a low bar. And I thought Korzen said he wouldn't label Catholics United as a "pro-abortion rights group." Oh well.

    But let's take this a second step - why did Korzen support the House after Stupak amendment passed? Was it because the bill was now "pro-life"? Then obviously he wouldn't support the Senate bill if it did not include the same pro-life language? Korzen: is my analysis accurate? If so, I'm glad we cleared that up. But if Korzen actually supported the bill because he is in lock-step with Democrat goals, then he is actually no different than the majority of pro-abortion groups, so his argument is false and deceitful.
    I'm pretty sure Deal wasn't with us in supporting final passage of the [House] health care bill. He just hates the idea of health care reform, and abortion provides an all-too-convenient excuse.
    As I prepare to write this next sentence, the number of ways to throw these words back at you leave me confused where to begin. How can Korzen say a pro-life advocate "hates the idea of health care reform"? I think it's pretty clear pro-lifers hate this type of health care reform, the kind which actually hurts all the good things health care reform is supposed to help. And by "good things" I mean people, Chris, real human beings, unborn, elderly - all Americans effected by this legislation.

    In my short experience in politics, one of my saddest lessons has been that the men who practice deception attack others using the same arguments they know ought to be used against them. Korzen makes a habit of attacking those who disagree with him as being "blindly partisan". I have read his lies for a long time now - this is his only "argument." If you disagree with him, it is because you aren't a Democrat - that is behind every one of his attempts to distract and confuse.

    At times I have disagreed with Republican issues and elected officials. I recently strongly opposed their congressional candidate in NY-23. Readers will recall I came out vocally against John McCain's position on Embryonic Stem Cell Research during the presidential campaign. There are many other examples. But can Korzen name one example where Catholics United, as an organization, vocally disagreed with a Democrat policy, issue, or candidate, because these opposed Catholic teaching?

    In the final analysis, I think (to use Korzen's words) that he actually just hates the idea of being wrong, and lies provide an all-too-convenient way out.

    If I'm wrong, Mr. Korzen can start by responding. If the truth is on his side, it will come to his defense.

    (I would also say, publicly, that I am happy to debate Mr. Korzen in public, in person. I am open to discussing the terms of the debate, and my contact information is readily available on the sidebar.)

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    Breaking: Pro-life groups say Casey compromise "unacceptable"

    First, a quick recap: last Tuesday the Senate, led by Senator Harry Reid, voted down Senator Ben Nelson's pro-life amendment.

    After Nelson threatened to filibuster a bill with pro-abortion provisions, Senator Bob Casey worked with Senator Harry Reid (already a bad sign) to work on compromise language that would be acceptable to Nelson.

    Late yesterday Casey gave new language to Nelson for him to review, and Nelson asked pro-life groups to comment.

    Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life, having seen the language, was the first prominent pro-life consultant to declare the Casey compromise "unacceptable" - as he explained:
    "This is far cry from the Stupak Amendment," Johnson said in an email delivered to news outlets.
    "This proposal would break from the long-established principles of the Hyde Amendment by providing federal subsidies for health plans that cover abortion on demand. This is entirely unacceptable," he added.
    The proposal apparently has an opt-out clause that would allow taxpayers who object to their premiums and tax money used to pay for abortions to leave the program.
    "It is particularly offensive that the proposal apparently would make it the default position for the federal government to subsidize plans that cover abortion on demand, and then permit individual citizens to apply for conscientious objector status," he said.
    "This is an exercise is cosmetics -- like putting lipstick on a legislative warthog," Johnson concluded.
    Staff for Nelson and Casey say process of drafting the language is ongoing, though the condemnation from National Right to Life might make its drafters go back to the drawing board.
    Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, also came out against the Casey amendment. If Perkins and Johnson are against it, you can be very confident that the rest of the pro-life organizations will come to a similar conclusion. This really isn't a hard call to make.

    After all, remember - all pro-life groups are demanding at this point is that the new health care legislation follow long-standing Hyde amendment language (which prohibits federal funds from paying for abortions). The US Bishops have released a helpful side-by-side page which compares current federal law to the Nelson amendment and twitters "[they are] the same thing."

    And yet pro-abortion groups and legislators - and now Senator Casey himself - continue to try to sneak in (or outright provide for) an abortion mandate in the bill.

    The word on the street is that Senator Casey will continue negotiations with Senator Nelson, hoping to win-over Nelson's vote. Senator Casey is thus, in a real way, pushing for this health care bill.

    Yesterday I uploaded one of the advertisements that pro-life groups are airing in Senator Casey's home state of Pennsylvania, and also noted the pressure that Senator Nelson is under from within the Senate to change his vote.

    Outside of Washington DC, however, it's a very different picture. In Senator Nelson's state of Nebraska, the majority of citizens don't want Harry Reid's health care bill. So Senator Nelson's resistance to the current legislation need not solely be on the grounds that it provides a huge expansion to abortion funding and access. There are very practical political reasons to oppose it, in addition to the moral reasons I've mentioned.

    I urge papists in these two states to continue doing their best to convince their Senators to make the right choice - to craft truly pro-life language, and to only vote for a bill that will improve the way health care is delivered, at an affordable cost, without rationing care to vulnerable persons.

    Personally, I see no way the current legislation can address all of these serious issues.

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    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Pro-Life Video: SBA List asks Sen. Casey "Who Shall Live?"

    Democrat Senators Bob Casey and Ben Nelson are the most important pro-life votes in the health care debate right now.

    A new ad being aired by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List asks Senator Casey to live up to his late father's words (in a speech he gave at Notre Dame):


    In a landmark speech, the late Governor Robert Casey, Senior said "Nothing could be more foreign to the American experience than legalized abortion. It is inconsistent with our national character, with our national purpose, with all that we've done, and with everything we hope to be."

    But right now, Robert Casey, Junior is poised to vote in the Senate for a health care bill with federal funding for abortion. The bill will result in more abortions—abortions that Americans will be required to finance. Senator Casey, trading the lives of unborn children for a health care bill is inconsistent with our American character.

    "The abortion debate is not about how we shall live, but who shall live. And more than that, its about who we are."

    Contact Bob Casey, Junior today and tell him to vote NO on any health care bill that funds abortion. - SBA List
    A story by LifeNews, meanwhile, points out that the Democrat leadership is doing everything they can to pull Senator Ben Nelson over to their side:
    [pro-abortion Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin] told NRO to watch for the manager's amendment, which could include language that would satisfy Nelson but eventually be withdraw in the conference committee to leave the bill funding abortions.
    ... Reid is reportedly working on the [new abortion] language with Sen. Bob Casey, the Senate's only other self-proclaimed pro-life Democrat -- although Casey faces criticism of his own for appearing to support the bill even with abortion funding in place.
    Both Senators Nelson and Casey should be encouraged to oppose this pro-abortion bill!

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    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Update: Everything Health Care


    I've been refraining from doing a health care debate update post for some time because the contours of the debate change so rapidly.

    Suffice it to say that, as I have been mentioning on the APP blog, the Senate health care legislation is on the ropes now, with the most serious chance of failure that it has had since being taken up.

    As I twittered last night , "keep up the prayers and continue to contact your Senators: the anti-life, irresponsible health care reform legislation is on the rocks."

    For those interested in the topic (and we all should be, because we all have a stake in it), let me throw out some other important/interesting links....

    Deal Hudson points out that the fake Catholic groups are working overtime to confuse Catholics into thinking they ought to support this fatally flawed legislation for moral reasons (Steven Ertelt is on this angle as well ). 

    Here is one example of the fake Catholic group "Catholics for Choice" trying to create a false dichotomy between bishops and Catholic laypeople (when they're not busy trying to convince young Catholics to contracept!). Here is another example of liberal religious groups coming out against pro-life amendments (aided and abetted by liberal news site Daily Kos). As Deal Hudson echoes, "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed."Senator Casey, meanwhile, despite claiming to be pro-life, continues to disappoint.

    This despite the fact that American culture continues to become pro-life: a New Report Shows 1,500 Abortion Centers Closed Since 1991. Ross Douthat, meanwhile, writes a fascinating piece on the Politics of Pregnancy Counseling. Important: Undercover Video Shows Planned Parenthood Staff Lying to Woman About Abortion (go Lila Rose!).

    Pro-abortion Senators are doing their best to deceive voters and their fellow Senators about what the Nelson amendment would have done (had it not been defeated). Here is a video of Sen. Mikulski comparing the Nelson amendment to Nazi Germany and Communist China. Seriously. Rep. Louis Capps is the most dangerous pro-abort politician in the House trying to sell the lie that the re-introduction of Hyde Amendment language would tilt the status-quo towards pro-life.

    And let's not forget the financial angle here - Jill Stanek reports that Pro-aborts contribute 6x more to US senators than pro-lifers. Charmaine Yoest is challenging Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards to admit the huge financial stakes her organization has in the outcome of the health care debate. Pro-lifers just want to save babies. 

    update: Anne Hendershott has written a masterful, comprehensive article for Catholic World Report on the involvement of Catholic health care advocates who have - *cough* - some major things to gain in this debate. Like lots of money.

    Closer to pure politics, The Susan B. Anthony List is "pounding" Sen. Lincoln for her pro-abortion votes (includes video). In the broader context of the health care debate, American Life League asks the question if the Stupak language actually represents a pro-life victory.

    Dan Gilgoff at the indispensable God & Country blog poses 5 Unresolved Questions on Abortion in Healthcare Debate. Deal Hudson says The Bishops Have A Second Reason For Opposing The Healthcare Bill.

    ... and that's why it's best not to fall behind the health care news stream!

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    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Friday: AmP to appear on EWTN's The World Over at 8PM EST


    This evening I will be on EWTN's The World Over with Raymond Arroyo at 8PM EST, discussing the final stages of the health care debate, and possibly mentioning themes I wrote on this morning in my commentary post: "Catholic Politicians Face a Clear Choice in Health Care Debate."

    You may watch or listen to the interview live at www.ewtn.com/audiovideo/index.asp

    Do tune in as well for Raymond's exclusive interview with Rep. Bart Stupak - the last best chance we have for ensuring that this health care legislation does not radically expand abortion funding and access.

    My previous posts on the health care debate are archived here.

    update - thank you to all the AmP readers who tuned in! I think the segment went very well. The show will encore Sunday at 4PM and Monday at 10am and 11PM, at this link.

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    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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    Tuesday, December 08, 2009

    Update: Senate defeats Sen. Nelson's pro-life amendment 54-45

    I just watched on C-SPAN as the Nelson-Hatch amendment (the Senate version of the Stupak amendment in the House - I explain it here) was defeated 54-45. 

    The democrats needed only 50 votes to defeat this abortion neutrality amendment and they went over that mark by four Senators. This means, however, that at least 5 democrats came across he aisle and voted pro-life, but it wasn't enough.

    As I wrote after the vote was published, "Senate Health Care remains strongly pro-abortion."

    This result was not unexpected, but it certainly complicates the efforts of the American bishops and faithful to ensure that health care reform does not change the status quo in favor of government money funding abortion. 

    More as it happens....

    According to the official roll, {update} two Republicans voted for the pro-abortion status quo (Collins and Snowe of Maine). {update} 7 Democrats, meanwhile, voted for the pro-life Nelson amendment: Kaufman of DL, Bayh of IN, Casey of PA, Conrad of ND, Dorgan of ND, Nelson of NE, Pryor of AR.

    Bob Casey of PA, however, will probably vote for the pro-abortion bill, now that he has had his chance to offer an amendment (which was tabled, of course). 

    Sen. Nelson has made some promise that he would filibuster the final bill if his amendment failed or was tabled. Let's focus our prayers on him holding true to that promise.

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    Monday, December 07, 2009

    Today: pro-life amendment in Senate *updated*

    Here on Capitol Hill, it is widely expected that the Nelson-Hatch pro-life amendment will be offered today for a vote. update: it will be voted on Tuesday.

    While it would need 60 votes to pass, this is not an impossible feat, especially after the better-than-expected turnout for the Stupak amendment in the House.

    Kathleen Gilbert writes about the Nelson-Hatch amendment, and what others are saying about it:

    Following reports that the Senate may vote imminently on its pro-life amendment, the National Right to Life Committee is urging voters to lobby senators to ensure a yes vote for the pro-life Hatch-Nelson amendment.

    Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have submitted an amendment to the health care reform bill that, like the Stupak amendment in the House, prevents the Senate version of reform from mandating abortion coverage or providing federal funds for coverage that includes elective abortions.

    Many analysts doubt that the pro-life amendment will succeed.  However, Sen. Nelson has vowed to oppose the final bill if it does not include his language - a refusal that could bring down the whole measure unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid secures at least one vote from among Republican ranks. 

    The amendment would need 60 votes to secure its place in the bill.   There are 40 Republicans in the Senate, but both Republican Senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, support government funding for abortion.  Last year, the following 8 Democratic Senators voted to prohibit funding for abortion or abortion coverage in the Indian Health Service: Senators Bayh (IN), Byrd (WV), Casey (PA), Johnson (SD), Landrieu (LA), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Reid (NV). Both Democratic Senators from North Dakota, Conrad and Dorgan, have voted against government funding for abortion coverage in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.  Senator Lincoln (D-AR) has not voted for pro-life funding amendments, but did vote for the partial birth abortion ban.

    Please contact your Senators today (sooner is better) and urge them to support this pro-life amendment! 

    Oh, and despite what you may have heard, the Mikulski amendment, which has already passed, is not a pro-life amendment. In fact, it could require all insurance plans to cover abortions.

    update: there may be some surprise yes votes on this amendment - so keep at your Senators!
    update 2Abortion vote today could decide fate of heath plan, says Washington Examiner

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    Thursday, December 03, 2009

    Interim post: health care still pro-abortion

    Two bad pieces of news on the health care reform debate.

    Pro-abortion forces had a rally yesterday, only a couple hundred people showed up, and they were greeted with this outrageous claim:
    During the rally yesterday sponsored by the Planned Parenthood abortion business and other leading pro-abortion groups, Rev. Carlton Veazy told the small gathering of hardcore activists that abortion is a "God-given right." Veazy is the head of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

    The rally was a time for abortion advocates to rally together to press for taxpayer funding of abortions and saw a small crowd of just a few hundred people -- compared to the 100,000 or more who attend the March for Life. (LifeNews)
    Operatives of the St. Michael Society infiltrated the pro-abortion event and published a report.

    Second, the flawed Mikulski Amendment passed on a near party-line vote today:
    Senators approved an amendment to the government-run health care bill today that calls abortion "preventative care." They voted 61-39 in favor of the Mikulski amendment that could make it so every health care plan in the United States would have to cover abortion.

    Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a pro-abortion Maryland Democrat, offered Amendment No. 2791 dealing with federally mandated coverage of "preventive care."

    Though most of the discussion on the amendment centered on a mammogram coverage problem in the bill, it presents significant concerns for pro-life advocates.

    The Mikulski amendment would essentially open the door to defining abortion as "preventative care" and could result in mandates to private insurance plans that they define abortion as such and provide coverage of it. (LifeNews)
    I know efforts were made to fix the language of this amendment so that it excludes abortion as "preventative coverage", but to my knowledge, those were not introduced before it was voted upon and improved, so it remains open to the abuse of covering abortions under its phrasing.

    More as it happens....

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    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Open thread: The Health Care Debate

    [Greetings from Torun, Poland where I am presenting at the College of Social and Media Culture's Second International Congress. Given what they do here, they have a very nice internet connection here so I can carry on with my blogging!]

    So what's happening in the health care debate right now?

    Sen. Harry Reid has released his 2,074 page health care bill into the Senate for debate (full text here).

    Unlike the Stupak-amended Speaker Pelosi health care bill, Reid's Senate bill contains massive abortion funding

    To be specific, it will levy a new "abortion premium" fee on Americans who participate in the government-run plan (yes, Reid has included the infamous "public option" in his version of the bill). 

    This abortion premium structure was drafted by Rep. Lois Capps - a huge abortion advocate. It should come as no surprise that she has written an abortion tax into the bill.

    Americans United for Life has detailed how Reid's bill funds abortions with American tax money, as well as problems it raises for conscience protection and end-of-life issues.

    Bottom line: the US bishops have said Catholics must "vigorously oppose" any health care bill that contains abortion funding. The Reid bill contains abortion funding, therefore Catholics must tell their elected representatives that they vigorously oppose it. Here's one place to do that.

    update:


    In a speech on the Senate floor, Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) emphasizes that every pro-life senator should cast a no vote on allowing the Senate to consider the Democrats health care reform bill, which would require at least one government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortion and would allow taxpayer dollars to subsidize such plans. All it would take, Senator Johanns points out, to defeat public funding of abortion is for one pro-life Senate Democrat to stand up for his or her principles and vote no on considering the bill.
    I'd like to see readers contribute the names of which Democrat Senators they think would be most likely to join pro-life Republicans in voting against this pro-abortion bill.

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    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Epic fail: LA Times claims fake catholic group's statement was issued by USCCB

    Memo to the Los Angeles Times: fire Kim Geiger, and fire her editor while you are at it.

    The Catholic News Agency has identified this article published five days ago by the Los Angeles Times which falsely attributes two quotes authored by the fake "catholic" group Catholics United to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

    As of this writing, the error is still uncorrected on their website. Did the entire staff decide to take a vacation? 

    This mistake is either laziness or manipulation on the part of the author, and to such a serious degree as to warrant a correction and an apology, and soon.

    The error is also disturbing because it plays into the propensity of some news outlets to create/allow confusion over what is the true position of the US bishops on this sensitive and critical issue of health care reform. 

    On the day of the health care debate last weekend I pointed out that the website Politico, which is very popular among DC political operatives and hill staffers, had misleading blog posts and a misleading cover story/headline for the majority of the day, claiming that the US bishops had "signed off" on PelosiCare. 

    The danger here was that hill staffers would relay the misleading information they read on Politico to their bosses who would then go to vote on the floor thinking that the US bishops had signed off on health care reform in the format it was being voted on at that time, when in actual fact the bishops still opposed it.

    In any case, an error of this magnitude should simply be corrected, and immediately.

    The LATimes author can be contacted at kgeiger@latimes.com. {update - her email address has apparently been disabled or her inbox is full. - you can still email their complaints department readers.rep@latimes.com}


    Oh, and for the record, Chris Korzen and all his buddies at Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Catholics for Choice are a bunch of self-serving, duplicitous parasites and I'll be happy to debate their campaign of distortions and misinformation any time someone wants to sponsor it. I say this with all charity because it's the truth. They are paid to confuse and deceive Catholics and they should be ashamed for it.

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    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Commentary: Is abortion funding a distraction, or not?

    Back when abortion funding was in the health care reform bill (protestations from the White House to the contrary notwithstanding), President Obama told Katie Couric that the abortion issue was a "distraction" from his larger project to promote health care reform. 

    Rep. Patrick Kennedy later attacked the US Catholic bishops for using the "red herring" of abortion funding to oppose the overarching "pro-life" goals of health care reform (mark my words: it's going to be one of the biggest mistakes of his political career).

    The message of both the White House and Democrat leadership was clear: to get hung up on the abortion issue, they claimed, was to needlessly fritter away precious time at the grave human expense of those without medical insurance. Pro-life Democrats and their Republican allies were holding health care reform "hostage" over abortion, it was said.

    Then, two things happened. First, Rep. Bart Stupak's eleventh-hour abortion-neutrality amendment passed with the support of 64 Democrats. A couple days later, forty Democrats reportedly wrote to Speaker Pelosi threatening to vote "no" on a final bill unless the Stupak amendment is stripped in conference. They are, essentially, threatening to hold health care reform "hostage" over abortion.

    Reporters, pundits and talking heads, meanwhile, are all buzzing about this new battle over abortion funding. It's the talk of the town. Legislation which advances the abortion agenda is evidently a non-starter, but arguments over the legitimacy of attempts to preserve the status quo - now that's something to talk about.

    (Random aside: Chris Matthews in particular spent a lengthy segment on his program Hardball discussing the abortion funding problem with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. I had to raise my eyebrows when Matthews, discussing the abortion disagreement, asked Richards: "Can you cut this in half?" Her response was chilling to all King Solomon fans: "Sure.")

    But what does all this new buzz about abortion funding have in common?

    No one is saying this debate about abortion funding is a "distraction" or "red herring."

    I, for one, welcome this newly-discovered common ground.

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    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Update: Everything you never wanted to know about the health care debate

    For those of you who just want to know what is going on in this new chapter of the health care debate, I'll summarize the two important points before filling-in the back story below:
    1. The health care bill that was passed last Saturday wasn't as bad as it could have been, thanks in no small part to the vigorous efforts of Catholic bishops and faithful
    2. ... but, this process has a long, long way to go. And we have to remain vigilant that the small concessions we have gained are not given up in the legislative rumble and tumble to come.
    Now, all the confusing details....

    Planned Parenthood, incensed that moderate Democrats joined Republicans in support the abortion-neutral Stupak amendment, are attempting to use their "strongest weapon - the White House." The Family Research Council is correct that the passage of the Stupak amendment was "a stunning rebuke of [the Planned Parenthood] agenda in an arena they traditionally dominate." It's no surprise they are trying to go over the heads in Congress now.

    Pro-aborts love point out "fractures" in the pro-life community, but they are definitely engaging in some serious squabbling at this point. If anyone had any doubts about Rosa DeLauro's pro-abortion ideology, it's completely in the open now. Don't trust her "pro-life compromise" bills. The only thing she wants to compromise is the pro-life movement. 

    And to encourage unity on our side, let's be clear - passing the Stupak amendment did not play into the hands of pro-abortion Democrats trying to pass their health care bill, as John McCormack explains.

    President Obama, for his part, was asked yesterday about these recent developments, and his response was mostly worthless. On the one hand he said this is "a health care bill, not an abortion bill," but he also hinted that he thought changes needed to be made to the bill's current language - so who knows. 

    Timothy Gibbs, his spokesman, certainly isn't any help in establishing the President's position on this issue. Once again, his attempts to gratify both pro-abortion and pro-life forces has resulted in his angering and frustrating both sides. But right now our side is faring slightly better.

    Meanwhile, the most immediate danger is that the abortion-neutral Stupak amendment will be stripped in conference. In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, 41 Democrats demanded that she strip the abortion-neutral language before it passed out of the House. One democrat is "confident" and "working very hard" to ensure that the final bill is pro-abortion. Jack Smith at the Catholic Key argues that Pelosi does not have enough votes to pass the final bill.

    As for the Senate - the next battlefield over health care, faces many of the abortion problems that plagued the House version of the bill. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska appears to be willing to take over the mantle of Bart Stupak and introduce an abortion-neutral amendment into the Senate version of health care.

    Cardinal George of the US Bishops conference has promised to remain "vigilant and involved throughout this entire process." You can count on my watching it closely.

    For those interested in the technical side of things, the National Right to Life Committee has good resources online, updated with frequency and detail. 

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    Saturday, November 07, 2009

    Health Care Updates - have the bishops endorsed PelosiCare?

    Because this story is changing by the minute please follow my live updates on twitter.

    Today Pelosi is trying to get enough votes together to approve her deeply-flawed health care bill.

    It has been an eventful morning. From what I can tell, after failing to get enough promised votes for health care without an abortion-neutrality amendment, Pelosi decided to allow it.

    Right now Politico is reporting that the US Bishops have endorsed the bill.

    That's not true - rather, it appears that the bishops are encouraging that members support the abortion-neutrality amendment (which is finally coming to a vote) and have laid out other conditions under which their primary reservations will be resolved.

    [update - Politico has changed the title of their "live pulse" story to clarify that the bishops have only endorsed the Stupak/etc amendment - not the whole bill. Because this story is changing by the minute please follow my live updates on twitter.]

    Politico has published a letter from the bishops that they issued today. It looks like in the final crucial hours of health care the "social justice" side of the bishops is calling the shots. I'll explain later.

    Also, as much as some people try to downplay the importance of abortion funding in this debate, another article in Politico today basically concedes that this entire process of approving PelosiCare was almost ground to a halt solely on this issue.

    Things on the hill are apparently crazy today. They are crazy because Pelosi is trying to push this health care bill through without time for deliberation and prudence. She wants to rush through an overhaul of the way one-in-six dollars is spent in this country without listening to the majority of the American people.

    That's a heck of a way to run a government.

    Please continue to email and call (202-224-3121 ) your representatives to demand that they vote YES on the pro-life stupak amendment, and then vote NO on HR 3962.

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    Friday, November 06, 2009

    Bishop Conley: health care reform "fatally flawed ... needs to be opposed and defeated"

    Once you have contacted your representatives, read Bishop James Conley's lucid and comprehensive exposition of why Catholics must oppose to current form of health care reform.

    Here is his bottom line:
    With the exception of a few leaders, like Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, Congress has ignored or rejected every attempt at resolving the serious concerns voiced by the bishops—or alternately, has pushed solutions like the Capps Amendment that do not solve the problems, and even create new ones. The White House has done nothing to intervene. “Common ground” thinking in Washington apparently has more reality as public relations than as public policy. And as a result, all of the main healthcare reform proposals in Congress, including the huge, 2,000-page merged House bill, are fatally flawed. Unless they are immediately and adequately amended, they need to be opposed and defeated.

    For all of Congress’ public talk about “consensus building” and “consensus health care,” Washington has proved once again that hearing loss can be job-related. Most American Catholics, from people in the pews to pastors and bishops, want healthcare reform to work. But too many people in Washington don’t know how to listen, or don’t want to listen, or just don’t care.
    Read the full text for his reasons here.

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    Update: What to say to *your* representative about healthcare

    Today is the last opportunity to call your representatives on health care. Let's light up the phones!

    Please email and call (202-224-3121 ) your representatives to demand that they vote NO on HR 3962.

    update: I found a list of the 69 democrats who have expressed opposition to health care - these are the representatives Pelosi and Obama are trying to win over to their side - this list also includes their individual statements which means you can hold them to their promise!

    (they are also receiving pressure from pro-abortion democrat groups - so they need to hear your side!)

    See my previous post on this pressing issue here. God Bless you for your activism on this issue.

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    Update: Bp. Tobin stays strong, and Rep. Kennedy backs off

    My friend Josh at Catholic Vote Action gives us an update on the ongoing "dialogue" going on between Congressman the-church-isnt-pro-life Kennedy and Bishop oh-yes-she-is-are-you-stupid Tobin

    Bishop Tobin recently granted an interview to the Providence Journal:
    At another point the bishop addressed what he called the question of whether church leaders are “trying to impose our moral or religious beliefs on Congressman Kennedy.” 
    His answer: “Well, the fact is he professes to be a Catholic.” Speaking of Catholic legislators generally, Tobin indicated that the church’s view is that, “if someone is clearly and consistently and obstinately opposed to the church on something as serious as abortion — which again is a grave and intrinsic evil — then they really have to question their membership in the church and their participation in the life of the church.”
    Josh further tells us:
    Kennedy didn’t apologize to Bishop Tobin, but he did backtrack a little. From the Providence Journal:
    Kennedy accepted the invitation in a letter last week and said his comments “were never intended to slight the church.” Kennedy acknowledged that “the church has always stood for health-care reform.” He added, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy of the church on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”

    Kennedy also said that no group “is getting everything it wants” in the medical overhaul. The church “has every right to promote its position,” he said, but if a group “seeks to impose absolutes on the debate, we are left standing idle instead of moving our nation forward.”
    That last argument is a canard. Question: What is causing the biggest logjam in moving health care reform bills? It’s Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s insistence on having abortion coverage. If she relented on that, this process could move forward.
    I totally agree.

    Thanks again, papists, for heading my call to contact Kennedy's office demanding that he apologize, and for contacting Bishop Tobin and supporting his strong, public response to Kennedy's slander.

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    Thursday, November 05, 2009

    Action: Stop PelosiCare before it gets voted on this Saturday

    PelosiCare will be voted on this Saturday evening. Before that vote happens, we need to email and call (202-224-3121 ) our elected representatives to demand that they vote NO on HR 3962.

    Whatever you've heard, 1) this legislation still funds abortions with our taxpayer dollars. 2) Its price tag is outrageous and will be crippling to our economy. 3) Nationalized health care systems always disadvantage the elderly and the very sick. 

    I'm blogging at APP about the problems with this health care bill:
    Even if you've never contacted your representative before, please do so today. It's really important.

    It's especially important to contact moderate Democrats, as almost all Republicans have promised to vote against it, and almost all liberal Democrats have promised to vote for it.

    Pro-abortion organizations, which stand to profit massively if this legislation passes, are mobilizing their members to contact their representatives. Well our voice needs to be heard as well, and now.

    You are welcome to say anything you want to your representative, but a very effective thing to tell them - if it is true - is something along the lines of: "If you vote for this health care bill, I will not vote for you again, and if there is an acceptable candidate running against you, I will vote for them, and ask my friends to do the same."

    Politicians listen to promises like that. It's a promise I intend to keep.

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    Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    Urgent: As health care goes to a vote this Saturday - no change in abortion funding

    Here in Washington DC, Nancy Pelosi is reportedly scrounging around for the last pledges she needs to bring her health care reform bill to a vote THIS SATURDAY.

    NARAL and Planned Parenthood are fully engaged, lying that pro-lifers are trying to take away the current abortion coverage some women have. Well, we're not (would that we were!) - we're simply trying to keep the status quo and prevent health care "reform" from becoming a vehicle for pro-aborts to further mainstream, normalize and even subsidize abortions with our money (abortion fees are big business for NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Of course, we don't have a financial stake in this. They do.)

    Jill Stanek does an excellent job pointing out clearly how the new "pro-life amendments" offered this week are "phony" and amount to nothing more than "cosmetic" changes. 

    “I am disappointed the manager’s amendment introduced Tuesday night does nothing to change, let alone improve, the inadequate language on federal funding for abortion currently in the health care bill. I will continue to oppose, and will continue whipping my colleagues to oppose, bringing the bill to the floor for a vote until there is satisfactory language to prevent public funding for abortion.”
    ... matters have since been thrown into doubt because, due to a death in the family, Rep. Stupak will not be in Washington DC this week for any of the votes! Obviously Pelosi sees her opportunity.

    Folks, there's no rest for the weary. Please continue to contact your representatives and demand that they vote NO on health care at least until genuine pro-life amendments are offered and approved!

    (And even then, I strongly believe we should still vote no on this flawed and irresponsible bill.)

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    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Planned Parenthood President Attacks Catholics over Health Care

    Memo to President Obama: Please tell your friend, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, to stop attacking the leaders of the Catholic Church.

    Planned Parenthood's most recent action alert reads in part:

    "Don't let Catholic bishops and other anti-choice groups push Congress into passing anti-choice amendments to health care reform. Take action now to protect women's health."

    Cecile goes on to write her Planned Parenthood supporters in an email plea for money and action:
    One thing I know for sure — the bishops don't speak for all Catholics. From one Catholic Planned Parenthood supporter:
    What bothers me most is this: Millions of people are uninsured and hundreds of thousands die every year as a result. And, to see my church sacrifice health care reform for the sake of this one issue is just going too far. They don't represent me, and they don't represent my beliefs. I'm speaking out, and I'm asking my Catholic friends and family to do the same.
    If you're Catholic and you disagree with the bishops, please let your legislators know when you send your message. Your voice as a pro-choice Catholic needs to be heard NOW.
    Make no mistake: Cecile Richards is smart. She knows who is fighting for pro-life health care reform: Catholic bishops, the faithful, and their allies. That's why she's targeting us as a community of believing Christians, and our Catholic leaders and bishops in particular.

    Well, let's fight back. Visit http://www.usccb.org/action today, and invite 12 of your friends to do the same.

    Catholics have a very good record of success when we pray for God's grace and roll up our own sleeves.

    After all, we're still winning converts. And that should scare Cecile very much.

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    Monday, November 02, 2009

    AmP Poll: Did your parish talk about health care reform?

    Last week, the US bishops undertook an unprecedented effort to inform Catholics in 19,000 parishes about the problems in the current health care reform bill.

    Their effort also aims at mobilizing Catholics to contact their elected representatives requesting that they vote down the current health care bill unless critical aspects of it are fixed (pro-life, etc).

    The health care bill will probably be voted on this week, which means last weekend was the best chance to contact Sunday Mass-attending Catholics.

    So .... did your parish heed the call of their bishop? Let's find out!

    (please note the options proceed in descending order from most supportive to least support of the bishops' message. I've even included an option that your parish is contradicting the clear message of the bishops that the current health care reform bill ought to be strongly opposed.)

    Please help me get the word out about this poll. As always, I'd like to get as large a sampling as possible. Fr. Z is running a very similar poll on his blog. You are welcome to vote in his poll as well.

    It is not yet too late to ensure the US bishops' materials get into the hands of American Catholics.
    You can help make that happen!

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    Friday, October 30, 2009

    Commentary: On Bart Stupak's Collapse

    Bart, what happened?!

    Earlier this week I was able to write about you standing up to Nancy Pelosi and fighting for pro-life amendments.

    But yesterday a YouTube video of you surfaced which revealed that you intend to vote for Pelosi's pro-abortion health care bill even if all your amendments fail!

    Now you are writing editorials which have you saying:

    "I have not made unreasonable demands. I have simply asked that there be a straight up-or-down vote on my amendment reflective of current laws. If we had a clean vote on this amendment and lost, I could accept that. My pro-life colleagues and I simply want, and deserve, a chance to vote our conscience."
    But Bart, you have had chances to offer pro-life amendments. And they have been voted down. Now you are going to give up and accept this pro-abortion bill?

    What happened to the Bart about whom it was written, and who said when interviewed:
    However, the Michigan Democrat said he will not be backing down: "I'm comfortable with where I'm at. This is who I am. It's reflective of my district. If it costs me my seat, so be it." {source.}
    How much things have changed in a matter of days. Do you really think anyone will believe your claim that your conscience is only requiring you to offer and vote on amendments, and that if they get defeated, your conscience is fine with voting for the pro-abortion bill?

    I guess you do, but it sure puts the other pro-life Democrats in a lurch, a big one. Pelosi is once again getting her way, picking off the leaders of those representatives who are against her. Your vote is ultimately the only thing you have that she needs from you, and saying your amendments don't matter when it comes time to vote - well, you don't have a future in poker. Let's put it that way.

    ===

    Because this whole situation is complicated, I'll finish simply:
    1. The lack of pro-life amendments in PelosiCare ought to be a deal-breaker for you. Don't let Pelosi strong-arm you into compromising your conscience, and your constituents. Frankly, if you vote for this, you'll probably lose your seat anyway. I'll help.
    2. Stupak's amendment, whatever Stupak's personal philosophy about voting, is still GOOD. Just because he's having 11th-hour second-thoughts doesn't mean Catholics ought not still rally around his pro-life amendment, or any pro-life amendment that gets offered.

    At this point, we'll see if pro-life amendments are even given a chance. That looks doubtful in itself.

    Oh, and Hon. Stupak, it's not too late to change your mind again. The vote hasn't happened ... yet.

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    Claim: Pro-Life Democrats can still defeat pro-abortion "PelosiCare" bill

    Personally, I have next to no confidence that this coalition will actually stand strong and not end up crumbling and voting for PelosiCare:
    "Democrats for Life of America claims to have 40 congressmen who will vote against the House health care reform legislation if taxpayer funded abortion language is not removed from the bill, the organization announced on Thursday.

    The 40 vote coalition concerns the refusal of the House leadership to include language that would prevent abortions from being paid for in any new health care reform scheme. If Hyde Amendment-type language were inserted into the bill, Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) says, taxpayer funded abortions in appropriations bills would be prevented.

    Several attempts to insert such language have been unsuccessful in committee.

    "I want to be clear, pro-life Democrats want to help pass health care reform but our coalition can in no- way support reform that includes tax payer funded abortions. If the leadership will remove that language, we feel confident that we can deliver enough votes to help put this much needed reform over the top in the House," Kristen Day, DFLA Executive Director, said in a statement.

    “We believe in a big-tent Democratic Party, but to not allow Hyde language to be included in health care reform would force some pro-choice and pro-life Democrats to vote against health care reform. If we add this language, we believe we can help Speaker Pelosi get the votes to pass this legislation.” (CNA)
    I will be blogging next on what I sald have to describe as "Bart Stupak's collapse."

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    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Exclusive: Cardinal George urges every US bishop to take decisive action on Catholic health care concerns - and meet with their politicians

    Francis Cardinal George - President of the USCCB, together with Justin Cardinal Rigali (Chairman of USCCB pro-life activities), Bishop Murphy (Chairman of domestic justice and human development) and Bishop Wester (Chairman on Migration) have sent a letter to every Cardinal, Archbishop and Bishop in the United States asking for their "active and personal leadership" and to "redouble [their] efforts" that health care reform is done right. 

    Right now, health care reform is wrong. 

    I want to focus on what the bishops are urged to undertake personally.

    In part the letter to them reads:
    "The outcome [of this debate] will depend not primarily on advocacy done [by us] in Washington, but on what we do in our own dioceses and states to make the case clearly and persuasively to influence how our Senators and Representatives vote."
    The letter includes many action items for the bishops, including:
    • "Personally contact your Senators and Representatives who serve your diocese. In addition to letters and email, we ask you to speak personally to your members of Congress, in meetings and/or by phone."
    The letter goes on to say, to both Senators and Representatives (im paraphrasing here):
    • Please support an amendment to support conscience clauses and rule-out tax-payer funded abortions. If these amendments are not added to the bill, you must oppose the final bill when it comes to a vote.
    The ramifications of this activity of the US bishops are extremely significant. 

    To take one important example, Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco ought to call Nancy Pelosi, and ask that she follow the advice presented above. This then means that when she ignores his advice (as she undoubtedly will) and pushes through this pro-abortion health care reform bill, she will be intentionally and explicitly defying the personal request of her Archbishop.

    It should now be impossible, in fact, for any elected Catholic official to claim that they voted for the final pro-abortion health care bill without knowing clearly, in advance, where their local bishop stood on this particular issue. 

    I'll let us all ponder these implications for a moment. 

    Updates to follow....

    [This most recent activity from the USCCB goes even beyond their efforts to place a pro-life bulletin insert into every parish in America. I blogged on that story earlier today here. Make no mistake - this is going to be big.]

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    Video: Two-Faced Stupak? Democrat admits to constituents he would ultimately vote for health care even with taxpayer-funded abortion mandate

    A couple days ago I showcased Rep. Stupak's (failed) efforts to get taxpayer-funded abortions out of the house-version of the health care bill. When asked about his objection to this funding, and frequent attempts to eliminate it, Stupak said:
    "I'm comfortable with where I'm at. This is who I am. It's reflective of my district. If it costs me my seat, so be it."
    The Conservative organization Heritage Foundation has since found video, however, which reveals Stupak claiming to his constituents earlier this year that he would eventually vote for a health care bill even if his pro-life amendments had already failed. In this video, Stupak argues that as long as he tries to make the bill pro-life, he's doing his job and can still vote for a bill that isn't actually pro-life:

    {update - it appears the video has been removed. But before it was I had a chance to view it and confirm that it is real. Kathleen Gilbert at LifeSiteNews summarizes what Stupak said in the situation.}



    I think Rep. Stupak has some explaining to do - and quick.

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    Imperative: US Bishops urge *every* parish to utilize bullet insert on health care reform

    Yesterday I blogged about my claim that "How many bishops support the current health care reform? None of them."

    My claim is born out today by this email sent out by the USCCB Pro-Life Activities secretariat. It represents an unprecedented mobilization of the Catholic faithful on a particular political issue.

    It is simply incredible - the US Bishops want every parish in America to help them get the message out. It explicitly says that individual dioceses ought not to "opt out" of this innitiative.

    I don't care if I overload my bandwidth having indivividuals download these materials - we need to take action, starting in your parish:

    From: Tom Grenchik, Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities

    To: Diocesan Pro-Life Directors & State Catholic Conference Director

    Re: URGENT: Nationwide USCCB Bulletin Insert on Health Care Reform

    Attached [see below], please find an Urgent Memorandum highlighting USCCB plans and requests for diocesan and parish based activation on health care reform.

    The President of the Conference and the Chairmen of the three major USCCB committees engaged in health care reform have written all the bishops and asked that the attached USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert on health care reform be printed or hand-stuffed in every parish bulletin and/or distributed in pews or at church entrances as soon as possible.

    Congressional votes may take place as soon as early November. If your Arch/bishop is not in agreement with disseminating the bulletin insert, you will be hearing from his office immediately. You may wish to check with his office ASAP to see how you may be of assistance in distributing the Bulletin Insert, far and wide.

    Tomorrow, the USCCB will be e-mailing these same materials to a large number of parishes across the country, already on a USCCB contact list. The parish list is incomplete, so we will still have to rely on diocesan e-mail systems to reach EVERY parish. Thank you for your great help with this.

    Also included are suggested Pulpit Announcements and a Prayer Petition.

    There is also a copy of a newly-released ad for the Catholic press, which may be printed as flyers for the vestibule or copied on the flip-side of the Bulletin Insert. The flyer/ad directs readers to www.usccb.org/action where they may send their pre-written e-mails to Congress through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center. If you wish to sponsor the ad in your local Catholic paper and need a different size, please contact Deirdre McQuade at dmcquade@usccb.org.

    Please encourage parishioners to pray for this effort as well. More information can be found at www.usccb.org/healthcare.

    Thank you for your urgent actions and prayers on behalf of this nationwide effort!

    With this email are four attached documents - print these out, share them and take action:
    1. HC Cover Note to Leaders, Final.doc (a digital version of the email above)
    2. HC Bulletin Insert 10-23-09 Final.pdf (the one-stop nationwide parish bulletin insert)
    3. HC Pulpit Announcement & Prayer, Final 1.doc (a how-to for distributing the materials)
    4. HC Ad Saving_Lives_Flyer_FINAL.pdf (a flyer to be placed on bulletin boards, etc.)
    Note especially this Suggested Prayer of the Faithful:
    "That Congress will act to ensure that needed health care reform will truly protect the life, dignity and health care of all and that we will raise our voices to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable and to preserve our freedom of conscience. We pray to the Lord."
    This prayer perfectly illustrates the main themes I have been harping on throughout this debate - that health care reform, as it currently stands, is not truly pro-life and universal, and that it contains no respect for (Catholic) conscience protection. These are glaring shortcomings that urgently need to be addressed!

    Action items:
    • Please ask your pastor if he intends to use these materials. If he is not aware of them - forward them to this post on AmP so he has access to them. Or, print them out and bring them to him personally.
    • Perform the action items described in the materials I've provided in this USCCB bulletin insert.
    • Pray that health care reform not be passed unless it is truly universal and pro-life.

    Health care reform could be voted on as early as next week. These materials need to be in the hands of Catholics starting this weekend. Thank you for your efforts in serving our bishops and getting the word out. Godspeed.

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    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    How many bishops support the current health care reform? None of them.

    Over a month ago, I started compiling a list of bishops who have written or spoken about the current health care reform proposals being debated in Congress. This list quickly grew to 44 bishops.

    Earlier this month, I copied the letter published by two key bishops and the top pro-life Cardinal in America (all of whom chair separate committees for the USCCB) who promised they must "oppose the health care bill vigorously" if crucial aspects of it were not changed. Well, it hasn't changed.

    Today, Marcel at Aggie Catholics alerted me to a new statement of the combined Texas Bishops just released yesterday which repeats that same USCCB language about "opposing [the health care bill] vigorously."

    The message of all these bishops is clear: "Yes we want reform, but we don't want this."

    That's a clear message to politicians in Washington DC, especially President Obama and Catholic politicians: "Change the health care reform bill, or Catholics will have no choice but to vigorously oppose it."

    Make no mistake, we are in the end game for health care reform right now. And right now, the health care bill is unacceptable to Catholics. Furthermore, the track record during this entire debate has been to downplay, ignore, or lie about the life issues that matter most to Catholics.

    Therefore, if it comes down to a yes-or-no vote now, the only acceptable vote is a NO vote.

    I'd like to see someone try to disagree with my claim. How can a Catholic politician vote for a bill which the combined US bishops say they must "vigorously oppose", without defying the clear practical teaching of the US bishops? 

    Of course, plenty of politicians will do just that, because they have established a career of voting for things which the bishops oppose, but I want the record to be very clear about what they are doing on this most-important-of-issues. 

    I don't mean to be authoritative, I mean to be very clear about what I am claiming. 

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    Politics: Pelosi attacks Democrat Stupak to keep abortion funding

    It's a sad day when our Catholic Speaker (Nancy Pelosi) continues to exert pressure on another Catholic representative (Bart Stupak) when the only "crime" he is guilty of is trying to make health care reform pro-life:
    "Rep. Bart Stupak said Speaker Pelosi is not pleased with his effort to change abortion-related provisions in the healthcare bill being crafted by the House.

    During an interview on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" show, Stupak (D-Mich.) said he is undeterred in trying to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not pay for abortions. Stupak, who opposes abortion rights, acknowledged that some in his party are upset with his public campaign to change the bill.

    "The Speaker is not happy with me," Stupak said.

    However, the Michigan Democrat said he will not be backing down: "I'm comfortable with where I'm at. This is who I am. It's reflective of my district. If it costs me my seat, so be it."

    A portion of the interview can be accessed here. The entire interview can be seen here." (The Hill)
    NARAL Pro-Choice America calls Stupak's actions a "shameful abortion ban plot."

    In their email fundraising, they claim Stupak and others are trying to "impose an abortion ban on private insurance plans in the reformed health system." They go on to claim: "Millions of women could lose coverage they already have."

    Well ... it should come as no surprise to AmP readers that NARAL's claims are a lie. Pro-lifers are trying to only maintain the status quo when it comes to abortion funding, and yet pro-aborts are claiming we are trying to make pro-life inroads in our amendments. 

    I wish we were, but given the landscape, the best we can do is try to hold the line. And even those amendments are being voted down at every turn. 

    ===

    Also, on a somewhat related note, I have it on good authority that Nancy Pelosi continues to attend Mass and receive communion here in Washington DC. As recently as this past Sunday.

    Pelosi: campaigning for anti-life legislation for one day, receiving Communion the next.

    There really is no excuse.

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    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Update: Abp. Dolan backs Bp. Tobin, demands Rep. Kennedy apology

    Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York - who evidently has a modest blog of his own on the Archdiocese of New York website! - yesterday wrote about the regrettable situation of Rep. Kennedy's stupid, anti-Catholic remarks:

    Over this past weekend, several people mentioned to me Representative Patrick Kennedy’s blast at bishops for allegedly dividing the nation on the issue of healthcare; you can view the video here. His remarks were sad, uncalled-for, and inaccurate.

    The Catholic community in the United States hardly needs to be lectured to about just healthcare. We’ve been energetically into it for centuries. And we bishops have been advocating for universal healthcare for a long, long time.

    All we ask is that it be just that -- universal -- meaning that it includes the helpless baby in the womb, the immigrant, and grandma in a hospice, and that it protects a healthcare provider’s right to follow his/her own conscience.

    This is what the President says he wants; this is what we bishops say we want.

    Bishop Thomas Tobin, Representative Kennedy’s bishop, has a good point: Mr. Kennedy owes us an apology.

    A small proviso - President Obama has never said he wants to protect the helpless baby in the womb.

    I'll repeat my action items from yesterday's post on this same issue:
    • Contact Rep. Kennedy (through his press secretary kerrie.bennett@mail.house.gov) and demand he apologize to Catholics for his ignorant and hateful comments
    • Contact Bishop Tobin (through his communications director - kdavis@dioceseofprovidence.org) and thank him for standing up for Catholics, and for the truth.

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    Monday, October 26, 2009

    AmP speech on health care profiled by Denver Catholic Register

    My recent speech for the Archdiocese of Denver's very active theology on tap series has been covered by the Denver Catholic Register:
    "Theology on Tap welcomed Thomas Peters, blogger for American Papist: Not Your Average Catholic! to speak on the Catholic perspective of health care reform at Braun’s Bar and Grill at 1055 Auraria Parkway on Friday, Oct. 9.

    There’s no doubt the popularity of social media is on the rise. Peters’ blog speaks to, “the JPII generation about Catholic views of pop culture and politics.” He started it in 2005 because he wanted to establish a forum for the topics that mattered to his generation, presented from a perspective congruent with Catholic morals.

    [Read the full article here.]
    I'm happy to provide media background and interviews on the topic of Catholic involvement in the current health care debate. My personal email is [thomas at americanpapist dot com] and I check it regularly.

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    Breaking: Largest group of Catholic doctors calls for "reset" of health care reform

    The Catholic Medical Association (whose leadership has already come out strongly against the proposed health care plan), has now as a body approved a resolution on health care reform at its 78th annual meeting this weekend in Springfield IL:
    "The resolution calls upon Congress and President Obama “to ‘reset’ the effort to enact health care reform legislation, to reexamine their commitment to the principles of the current legislation, and to begin the process anew.”

    CMA President Louis Breschi, M.D. explained the need for the resolution this way: “As physicians, we are highly concerned by the direction health care reform legislation has continued to take. The whole thrust of the legislation voted out of congressional committees is flawed. It tries to fix the real problems we have in health care with massive new government spending and mandates.

    ... The resolution also urges legislators and President Obama to respect the principles of subsidiarity, solidarity, and the patient-physician relationship, as well as to exclude funding of abortion and to provide meaningful protection for the conscience rights of health care providers in any legislation.

    The complete text of the resolution can be found here.
    Founded in 1932, the Catholic Medical Association is the largest association of Catholic physicians in North America.

    We should listen carefully to their concerns both because they are experts in their field and also because they are trying to think about this question and practice medicine as good Catholics.

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    Stupidity: Rep. Kennedy attacks the Church, and Bishop Tobin takes him to task

    Patrick Joseph Kennedy II, a democrat US House representative from Rhode Island and the son of the late Edward Kennedy, viciously smeared the Church in an interview with CNSNews.com (updated - fixed):



    Transcript of Kennedy's comments:
    “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care to the human person - that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured,” Kennedy told CNSNews.com. “You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life-saving health care? I thought they were pro-life?” said Kennedy. “If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive. So this is an absolute red herring and I don’t think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord and I don’t think it’s productive at all.”
    Local Bishop Thomas Tobin wasn't about to let Kennedy get away with it, responding:
    “Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that “he can’t understand.” He got that part right.

    As I wrote to Congressman Kennedy and other members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation recently, the Bishops of the United States are indeed in favor of comprehensive health care reform and have been for many years. But we are adamantly opposed to health care legislation that threatens the life of unborn children, requires taxpayers to pay for abortion, rations health care, or compromises the conscience of individuals.

    Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.”
    "Irresponsible. Ignorant. A Disappointment. Owes us an apology."

    ... now that's taking the gloves off language. As Bishop Tobin is justified in using. Kennedy completely deserved this strong rebuke, because of his pro-abortion record, and because of his recent comments which are squarely against the facts, and unabashedly anti-Catholic.

    Action items - updated:
    • Contact Rep. Kennedy (through his press secretary kerrie.bennett@mail.house.gov) and demand he apologize to Catholics for his ignorant and hateful comments
    • Contact Bishop Tobin (through his communications director - kdavis@dioceseofprovidence.org) and thank him for standing up for Catholics, and for the truth.

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    Friday, October 23, 2009

    House Democrats Have Almost Enough Votes for Pro-Abortion Health Care

    A reminder of the political stakes we are facing:
    House Democrats said today that they have almost enough votes to get a pro-abortion health care bill through the chamber. The votes they say they have collected include almost enough for the government option, which would expand abortion funding even further.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her top lieutenants this week to conduct a vote count to determine where members of the party stand on HR 3200, which pro-life groups oppose.

    Three House committee have approved different versions of the bill, all of which include massive abortion funding and mandates, that Pelosi and top Democrats will meld into one measure.

    Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairman Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, said today that House Democrats have secured about 210 votes for a bill with the controversial public option.

    That's just eight votes short of the 218 needed to approve the pro-abortion bill. (Lifenews)
    To fill in the picture, it also appears that the Obama Administration is improperly (and illegaly) using the Health and Human Services website to promote these pro-abortion health care bills. Fantastic.

    update - worse and worse:

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    Patrick Kennedy: Catholic Church Fanning ‘Flames of Dissent and Discord’ by Opposing Health Bill Over Abortion Funding

    Patrick Kennedy needs to go back to CCD class:

    Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I) told CNSNews.com that the Catholic Church is doing nothing but fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” by taking the position that it will oppose the health-care reform bill under consideration in Congress unless it is amended to explicitly prohibit funding of abortion.

    “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care to the human person--that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured,” Kennedy told CNSNews.com when asked about a letter the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had sent to members of Congress stating the bishops' position on abortion funding in the health-care bill.

    “You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life saving health care? I thought they were pro-life?” said Kennedy. “If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive. So this is an absolute red herring and I don’t think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord and I don’t think it’s productive at all." (CNS News)

    He is effective, however - the number of errors in his statement make it very not-worth my time to answer them.

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    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Video: No Government Funded Abortions! Period.

    Great video, great organization, great cause:
    SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser clears up the story on abortion and health care reform. Contact your Senators today at www.sba-list.org/healthcare and tell them America doesn't want any government funded abortions, period!

    I'm honored to call Marjorie a friend. Go support her activities at Susan B. Anthony today!

    {Ph/t: Jimmy}

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    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Outrageous: Liberal Catholics trying to lay health care reform blame on US bishops

    Hold on to your hats -I'm going to try to make something very complicated, well, a little less complicated.

    This is about the ongoing struggle between democrats (and their friends) who want health care reform to include money for abortion, and pro-life Catholics who don't want money for abortions to be included in health care reform.

    Here is a list of the most important players in this fight:
    1) Cardinal Justin Rigali, head of the US Bishops' pro-life committee, and those who work for him
    2) The leaders of the democrat party who are crafting health care legislation, and are eager to appease their pro-abortion supporter
    3) Amy Sullivan (writing in TIME Magazine) and other media-type individuals (who falsely claim to present a "Catholic" perspective on health-care reform, like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good) trying to give cover to the democrats and malign the pro-life activities of Cardinal Rigali and other pro-life Catholics

    The latest salvo in this ongoing fight comes from Amy Sullivan, who wrote in TIME Magazine this weekend claiming that the US Bishops have been sending mixed and confused messages to democrats in Congress, making it impossible for democrats to honor the Bishops' demands that money not go to abortions in health care reform.

    She claims that democrats in Congress were taken by surprise when Cardinal Rigali wrote this on October 8th:
    "However, we [bishops] remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously."
    In fact, it is more accurate to say that Cardinal Rigali had seen through the democrat-sponsored Capps amendment as being nothing more than a shell game to sneak abortion funding into health care reform anyway, and so he wrote the above sentences with a clear message for the democrats in Congress: "enough is enough."

    Eliminating money for abortion in health care reform would be as simple as approving any of the multiple pro-life amendments (such as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment) which have already been offered. But no - democrats have voted down every single pro-life amendment which has been offered during the long course of these deliberations.

    Which leaves us with a very cold, obvious fact: the reason there is abortion funding in the current health care reform proposals is because democrats put it there, and have repeatedly kept it there.

    Sorry, Amy, you can't blame the bishops for this one.

    If you are interested in this topic, do also read what Deal Hudson and Steven Ertelt have written. Deal Hudson takes a look at what may be happening internally at the USCCB during these negotiations, while Steven Ertelt has an expert source briefing us on what has been happening politically in Congress.

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    Thursday, October 08, 2009

    Important: US Bishops taking the gloves off on health care reform

    I'm literally about to step into a car and drive to Ft. Collins, CO tonight, where I will be presenting a speech to young adults on "Catholic Principles of Health Care Reform" (encore performance tomorrow night in Denver, details have been posted), but wanted beforehand to update AmP readers on an important development.

    This from religion and politics reporters Dan Gilgoff:
    After alleging that the House healthcare bill includes an abortion mandate and taxpayer-funded abortion, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have kept quiet as the Senate Finance Committee has wrestled with its version of healthcare reform these last couple of weeks. But in a letter to House leaders today, the bishops make clear that they're opposed to both bills as they currently stand—and skeptical that their grievances will be addressed.
    Abortion continues to be the top concern. Here's an excerpt [of the bishops' letter]:
        We continue to urge you to:
        1. Exclude mandated coverage for abortion, and incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test....
        We sincerely hope that the legislation will not fall short of our criteria. However, we remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.
    Read full letter here.
    John Jalsevac at LifeSiteNews has a summary, as does George Stephanapoulos from a political perspective.

    As I said in my post title - this has the feeling of "taking the gloves off". Finally. Good.

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    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Reminder: AmP to present on Catholic Principles of Health Care Reform in CO

    At the invitation of the Archdiocese of Denver Youth and Young Adult Ministry, I'll be presenting a Theology on Tap talk for them on the topic "Catholic Principles of Health Care Reform" this Friday. I'll also be appearing in Fort Collins on October 8th giving the same presentation. Here is the PDF for the Denver event.

    If you can make it, I'd love to see you!

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    Thursday, October 01, 2009

    Bad: Democrats keep abortion in Baucus bill with party-line vote

    The new health care bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Baucus has the best chance (out of any of the bills currently being debated) of making it into law.

    No surprise then that Democrats are making extra-sure that abortion funding stays in its provisions:

    The Senate Finance Committee turned back Republican-led efforts to tighten abortion restrictions in health-overhaul legislation, and the Senate's top Democrat said he wants to bring a sweeping bill to the floor in two weeks.

    ... The sparring over abortion Wednesday underscored the sweep of the health legislation, which not only makes fundamental changes to a key segment of the U.S. economy, but also inflames passions on a range of social issues.

    Mr. Baucus said he didn't want to add abortion to the debate. "This is a health-care bill," he said. "This is not an abortion bill. We are not changing current law."

    ... But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) said the limits in the current law could easily lapse. He called on Mr. Baucus to fold the language into the health bill, making it permanent law. "Let's codify it," he said.

    ... The Hatch amendment failed 13-10 on a mostly party-line vote. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R., Maine) joined Democrats in opposing it, while Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota was the lone Democrat in favor.

    The panel also rejected an amendment Mr. Hatch said was needed to ensure the government doesn't discriminate against health-care providers who refuse to perform abortion procedures for moral or religious reasons. (Wall Street Journal)

    Baucus tries to claim that his new proposal is moderate and bi-partisan.

    Apparently he doesn't think preventing your tax dollars from going to abortions, or allowing Catholic and other Christian health-care providers an exemption from performing abortions, even counts as moderation or a bi-partisan position.

    So who is more extreme, Sen. Baucus or Catholics who don't want to be involved in abortions?

    And - just as a reminder - yet again Mr. Obama has failed to deliver his promise that abortion would not be covered in his health care proposals and that there would be an exemption for those with religious convictions on the issue.

    The health care debate is entering the late game - when exactly will Mr. Obama fulfill his promise?

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    Health Care: 183 House Members urge Speaker Pelosi to cut abortion funding

    Think abortion-funding-in-health-care is a "distraction" (in the words of our President)?

    183 members of the House of Representatives don't think so:
    Letter From 183 House Members Urges Pelosi to Allow Vote to Cut Abortion Funding

    A bipartisan group of 183 members of Congress sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter on Monday urging her to allow a vote on an amendment to cut the massive abortion funding and subsidies from the main health care "reform" bill in the chamber.

    HR 3200 currently allows for both abortion subsidies and mandates and pro-life Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan wants the opportunity to propose an amendment to remove the funding from the bill.

    "We urge you to allow members of the House to vote their consciences with regard to abortion and health care reform by allowing consideration of an amendment to prohibit government funding of abortion," the letter says.

    The lawmakers say HR 3200 "radically departs from current federal government policy of not paying for elective abortion or subsidizing plans that cover abortion."

    Although Pelosi, President Barack Obama and other abortion advocates say the three different versions of HR 3200 House committees approved do not fund abortions, the lawmakers say one version specifically does.
    Here is the letter in PDF format.

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    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Action: What Catholics can do to help health care reform

    The current status of the health care debate is complicated (I know, I follow it every day) - but what Catholics can do to make health care reform is fairly simple.

    Currently all the focus is on the Senator Baucus bill currently being debated in the Senate Finance Committee. Not suprisingly, like the other Democrat health care plans, it funds abortions.

    The American Principles Project blog has a simple explanation for how you can contact your Senator and request that they vote in favor of the various pro-life amendments which have been introduced to get abortion funding out of the Baucus bill. If 100 people called each of their Senators it really would make a huge impact.

    For those of you who want a bit more detail, pay close attention to the langauge of the Capps Amendment. It appears to be the model Democrats favor for sneaking abortion funding into various health care proposals. National Right to Life Committee's Doug John picks the Capps amendment apart in this column.
    Finally, I should mention that I'm happy to do radio or TV interviews on any of these topics. The larger the audience, the better the chance I'll be able to take time away from my other commitments. But of course anyone is welcome to drop me an email.

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    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    Video: Cardinal Mahoney tries to dodge abortion in health care question

    From CNSNews.com's Edwin Mora, an incredible video interview recorded yesterday:



    Let's look at what Mahoney said when asked if he agreed with Cardinal Rigali that abortion funding is in the health care reform proposal being drafted in the House of Representatives:
    “This is way beyond my field. My field is immigration. I really haven’t kept up on that, and I spend all my time on this other. You have to get somebody who spends time on that.”

    When asked whether he believed abortion should be funded under the health care bill, Cardinal Mahony said: “No, but that’s what the president said, too, so.”
    My initial thoughts:
    • I'm waiting for liberal Catholics to condemn Mahoney's response as inadequate because he basically claims to be a "single issue" Catholic bishop. "My field is immigration"? Excuse me? Since when does focusing on one issue get a bishop off the hook of being informed about other issues? *crickets*
    • "This is way beyond my field"? Sounds like the infamous "This is above my pay grade" response which Obama gave at one point to a similar question (and even he later admitted this was a flippant answer).
    • Is Mahony so oblivious to current events that he is unaware of the actions taken by Cardinal Rigali, of the warnings issued by over forty US bishops, of the numerous reports in mainstream media outlets that confirm this simple fact that abortion funding exists in the House version of health care reform?
    • Finally, Mahony pulls the rug out from underneath his own feet when he says "No, but that’s what the president said, too, so." ... what?! I thought Mahony said he was uninformed? And yet he is evidently informed about what Obama has said. So, Mahony knows what Obama has said about abortion, but not what the US Bishops have said.
    Absolutely incredible.

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    Catholic Medical Association comes out strongly against ObamaCare

    While I was in Orlando I was privledged to meet several members of the Catholic Medical Association.

    I am thrilled to see they have come out vocally against Obamacare because of its deep, particular flaws, and have also cautioned against any proposal which involves a government takeover of the private medical profession.

    They have released a 3-page open letter to "Catholics and Catholic organizations", and - because I realize people tend to be daunted by larger documents - I'm excerpting the conclusion here:
    "We must ensure that well-intentioned efforts to bring about “change” are not exploited to create a federally controlled system that promises health care for all, but creates an oppressive bureaucracy hostile to human life and to the integrity of the patient physician relationship. It would be better to forgo long-needed changes in health-care financing and delivery in the short-term if these would lead to a long-term, systemic policy regime that is inimical to respect for life, religious freedom, and the goods served by the principle of subsidiarity. Rather than accept such an outcome, we should take the time required to implement reform measures that are sound in both principled and practical terms."
    The entire letter can be read here (PDF) through the CMA website. They have created a new section of their website dedicated to health care reform which I would urge you to visit.

    This is a brave move by the Catholic Medical Association. Having met several of their members, I believe they are sincere Catholics who genuinely want to practice their profession according to their Catholic principles.

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    List: *44* Bishops against Obamacare (and counting!)

    From time to time AmP has compiled (with the help of readers like you) summaries of statements by the American heirarchy on important current issues.

    There is now a growing list of bishops across the United States who have preached or written about their prudential opposition to the current health care proposal in Congress.

    I will update this post as time goes on....
    1. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, PA
    2. and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, NY
    3. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO
    4. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, CO
    5. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, NY
    6. Bishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA
    7. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, ND
    8. Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, IA
    9. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS
    10. and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO
    11. Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
    12. Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, VA
    13. Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, SC
    14. Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, OH (PDF)
    15. Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, NC
    16. and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, NC
    17. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse, WI (PDF)
    18. Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, SD (PDF)
    19. Bishop Donald Trautman of Eire, PA (PDF)
    20. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, PA
    21. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT
    22. Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, IL
    23. Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, NJ (part II here)
    24. Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, AR
    25. Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, WI
    26. Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, KS
    27. Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, TX
    28. and Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Antonio, TX
    29. Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, NE
    30. Bishop Alex Sample of Marquette, MI
    31. Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, FL
    32. Bishop David Choby of Nashville, TN
    33. Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, CA
    34. Bishop Peter Sartain of Joliet, IL
    35. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, TX
    36. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, IL
    37. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Lousville, KY
    38. Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, TX
    39. Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, MD (PDF)
    40. Bishop Joseph Galente of Camden, NJ
    41. and Bishop John Smith of Trenton, NJ
    42. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse, WI (PDF)
    43. Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, FL
    44. Bishop James Johnson of Springfield - Cape Girardeau

    Please send me tips at "thomas [at] americanpapist.com". Thank you!

    You may also consider respectfully asking your bishop to preach or write about health care if he has not already done so. This is an important issue and we ought to hear what our pastors have to say about it!

    [photo credit - CNSNews.com]

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    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    AmP coming to Colorado in October!

    At the invitation of the Archdiocese of Denver Youth and Young Adult Ministry, I'll be presenting a Theology on Tap talk for them on the topic "Catholic Principles of Health Care Reform" on October 9th. I'll also be appearing in Fort Collins on October 8th.

    Here is the flyer:

    Other speakers in the Fall Series include Fr. Thomas Loya, Mark Shea, and Dr. Christian Brugger.

    So mark your calendars and bring your Catechisms! See you in CO!

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    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Papist Quote of the Day: Abp. Chaput

    "Health-care reform is vital. That's why America's bishops have supported it so vigorously for decades. They still do. But fast-tracking a flawed, complex effort this fall, in the face of so many growing and serious concerns, is bad policy. It's not only imprudent; it's also dangerous.

    ... If Congress and the White House want to genuinely serve the health-care needs of the American public, they need to slow down, listen to people's concerns more honestly -- and learn what the "common good" really means." (source)
    Oh, and Abp. Chaput also has something to say to the editors of the UK Tablet who claimed "The US Bishops must back Obama." His first response to them? "[This article] proves once again that people don't need to actually live in the United States to have unhelpful and badly informed opinions about our domestic issues."

    More proof that American Papists ought to carefully read everything Abp. Chaput writes.

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    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Important: Bishop Nickless critically evaluates Obamacare, lays out Catholic principles

    Stop the presses....

    If you are a Catholic engaged in our nation's debate about health care, you need to read Bishop R. Walker Nickless' in his latest column.

    I don't often post what I consider to be "required reading" for AmPsters, but this is one of those times. It's one of the very best articles on Catholic principles of health care I've read since I started following the debate.

    Some excerpts:

    .... My brother bishops have described some clear “goal-posts” to mark out what is acceptable reform, and what must be rejected.

    First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research. {contined}

    Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. {continued}

    Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care. {continued}

    Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. {continued}

    Now Bishop Nickless takes a look at the particular parts of the legislation we are examining in Congress:
    Within these limits, the Church has been advocating for decades that health care be made more accessible to all, especially to the poor. Will the current health care reform proposals achieve these goals?

    The current House reform bill, HR 3200, does not meet the first or the fourth standard. As Cardinal Justin Rigali has written for the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, this bill circumvents the Hyde amendment (which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions) by drawing funding from new sources not covered by the Hyde amendment, and by creatively manipulating how federal funds covered by the Hyde amendment are accounted. It also provides a “public insurance option” without adequate limits, so that smaller employers especially will have a financial incentive to push all their employees into this public insurance. This will effectively prevent those employees from choosing any private insurance plans. This will saddle the working classes with additional taxes for inefficient and immoral entitlements. The Senate bill, HELP, is better than the House bill, as I understand it. It subsidizes care for the poor, rather than tending to monopolize care. But, it designates the limit of four times federal poverty level for the public insurance option, which still includes more than half of all workers. This would impinge on the vitality of the private sector. It also does not meet the first standard of explicitly excluding mandatory abortion coverage.
    Here you have Bishop Nickless' very compelling prudential conclusion about the current forms of the health care proposals. The idea that Catholics have an automatic obligation to support them is false. Instead, Catholics ought to be vocally involved in opposing the problematic features of this legislation, while also calling for authentic reform along different lines than the ones proposed now.

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    Nope: ObamaCare would let Planned Parenthood into public schools

    It gets worse and worse:
    In Title V of H.R. 3200, Subtitle B, called School-Based Health Clinics, outlines a new federal program where the government would fund health clinics near or in the nation's public schools.

    However, Section 399Z indicates that school officials won't be responsible for administering the clinics. Instead, that responsibility falls to the clinic sponsor, which could be Planned Parenthood -- the nation's largest abortion business which does more than 350,000 a year

    ... "The clinics would be funded by federal grants awarded by the Obama administration, which has made it clear that they expect Planned Parenthood to play an active role in their proposed health care system," he says.

    Medina says he is not surprised that Planned Parenthood is included in the bill and could be given unprecedented access to teenagers and pre-teens to promote abortion.

    The abortion business has had a close working relationship with the Obama administration since its beginning. (LifeNews)
    At least teenagers have to figure out the bus route or have access to a car to visit a Planned Parenthood now.

    This provision, however, allows Planned Parenthood to set up shop practically in the classroom, handing out condoms and contraceptives, and providing their full range of "reproductive services" to school-age children. And we know what those include.

    Just say no!

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    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    Important: Abp. Chaput's advice on nationalized health care

    Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who I have immense respect for, has dedicated his latest column to the subject of health care

    Typically I excerpt paragraphs from articles to give AmP readers the highlights and save them time, but in this case, I would simply urge you to read the whole thing (it's fairly short).

    It's such a joy to encounter informed, rational debate and advice on health care from one of our bishops. Much space on AmP has recently been devoted to shooting down insane and deceptive perspectives on the issue. This is unfortunate because it may leave some with an impression that I only have critical things to say about health care reform as it is now offered. Well, it's true I have many critiques to make, but I'm also happy to engage in constructive conversation.

    Anyway, after you have read Abp. Chaput's piece, consider a few comments of my own:
    • I think it's brilliant that Abp. Chaput reminds us Catholics that the Church invented "common ground" on controversial issues. We're always in favor of true common ground that does not contradict our fundamental Catholic (and human) principles.
    • Simultaneously, Catholics can support "in theory" the concept of health care reform but vehemently opposed a particular attempt at health care reform when, as Abp. Chaput says, "the devil is in the details." The details of the plan, in my personal opinion, flunk it, not the concept of reforming health care (how about, for instance, tort reform, anyone?). 
    • If, as Abp. Chaput says, this health care plan explicitly includes mandated abortion access, or sneaks it in through another mechanism, this is "simply ... a form of lying." We should be angered at those who lie about their intentions, for it is an added offense beyond their determined support to make Catholics fund what we know to be the murder of innocents.
    • Abp. Chaput is right to call out the amendment recently offered by Lois Capps (D-CA) as a "shell game". The current state of the health care bill, I confidently argue, is pro-abortion.
    • Obviously, Catholics need to be vocal and involved in this debate. Amen a thousand times.
    Regarding, finally, Abp. Chaput's four key principles that should guide the development of a health care plan "in light of the mixed and sobering track record of national health plans in other countries" (take note of this warning!) ... I think this health care plan currently fails on all four counts:
    1. The elderly and disabled I do not believe will be treated "with a special concern" in the current plan. Rationing is a reality of every government benefit. Eugenics and pressure to low-income and disabled groups is a phenomenon of most every government-run health care plan I've come across. Look at England and our own state of Oregon.
    2. The current plan contains no conscience clause protection for individuals or institutions!
    3. The current plan funnels money to abortion under such euphemisms as "comprehensive planning services" and "mainstreams" their funding and pays those who provide them.
    4. The current plan is economically unrealistic and unsustainable. Seriously, the government can't keep the postal service in the black, what's to make us think it can run 1/6th of our economy any better? Their first step has been to draft a gargantuan bill, so dense in its bureaucracy that not even the officials who are to vote on it have read it!
    I could continue, but since this is an ongoing debate, I'll pause it here with my first round of impressions.

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    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Video: Congresswoman admits abortion in health care legislation

    Pro-abortion advocates are still trying to claim that the health care legislation currently under discussion is "abortion-neutral."

    Evidently then, these pro-abortion advocates are in disagreement with democrats who are preparing to vote on the bill!

    Pro-abortion Rep. Zoe Lofgren contradicted the pro-abortion lobbying-group talking points in her recent town hall meeting, by admitting abortion will be covered as a benefit:


    LifeNews has a full report.

    So who are we to believe, pro-abortion advocates who don't want to see the bill changed, or a representative of Congress who may soon be in a position to vote the bill into law?

    At least the congresswoman is being honest about the facts, and her position.

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    Monday, August 10, 2009

    White House health care "Reality Check" page ignores abortion

    The White House has launched a page on their official government website where citizens can "get the facts about the stability and security you get from health insurance reform."

    They call it "Health Insurance Reality Check."

    Gee, I wonder where they got this idea from?

    [It's amazing that, under Obama, the White House has become its own advertising engine. We must be in uncharted territory here with the White House becoming a proponent of partisan legislation. 

    I mean, can anyone imagine "www.WhiteHouse.gov/iraqwar" being considered a correct use of the Oval Office when Bush was president? Wouldn't Bush have been criticized for overreaching the proper roll of the Executive branch?]

    Notably absent from the "reality checks" is one on the claim that abortion is included in the legislation.

    I mean, it's going to be pretty hard to "reality check" so many facts.

    update: I'm happy to see Steve Ertelt at LifeSite has picked up on this telling omission

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    Thursday, August 06, 2009

    Why are Catholic organizations supporting Obamacare? Follow the money.

    [update 3 - in fairness, please also scroll to the bottom and see the links supplied.]

    Last week I was scratching my head trying to figure out the reasons why Catholic organizations (such as Catholic Charities USA, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Catholic Health Association) are "rushing anti-life health care reform".

    One of the reasons I'd like to be able to rule out very quickly is that they are doing so out of self-interest, because they have significant financial stakes in this debate.

    It becomes hard to rule this possibility out when I find out that Catholic Charities just received $100,000,000 in government money on July 20th - it's first federal contract ever:
    Catholic Charities USA has received a five-year, 100 million dollar federal contract to aid in disaster relief throughout the United States. The contract is the charity’s first ever federal contract.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Administration for Children and Families (ACF) section awarded the contract to Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), a 100-year-old service organization.

    The contract allows HHS to issue task orders to the agency for aid in connection with a specific disaster. The agreement became effective on July 20, a Monday CCUSA press release says. (CNA)
    It becomes still more difficult to rule out this troubling possibility when I discover - through Jack Smith's original and incisive reporting - what sort of organization, and compensation, obtains over at the Catholic Health Association:
    CHA does not represent patients or the poor. Their board is composed of, and Sister Carol represents, the very highly compensated chief executives of large health care conglomerates throughout the country. Lay-led corporations such as San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West and St. Louis-based Ascension Health run dozens of hospitals across numerous states which at one time were directly operated by religious orders.

    The executives at these companies are compensated as you'd expect the heads of large corporations to be compensated. In the last year figures are available, the head of Ascension Health made $1,756,790 plus $599,744 in deferred compensation and benefits. Catholic Health East's top exec made $1,185,000 plus $693,000 in deferred compensation and benefits. Both execs are on the board of CHA, where they are joined by numerous execs from similar health systems.

    But the biggest fish is Lloyd Dean, former Chair and current Speaker of Membership Assembly on the Board of Trustees at CHA. Dean is head of Catholic Healthcare West with 41 hospitals and clinics in California, Nevada and Arizona.

    In 2006, the last year figures are available, Dean made $4,001,892 and the Chronicle of Philanthropy named him the second highest paid non-profit executive in the United States. Dean's compensation, according the the Chronicle of Philanthropy, is based in part on "improvements in the organization's finances". As well it should be. Dean also has made gobs in his position on other boards, including Wells Fargo & Co. Dean is non-Catholic and a donor to both the DNC and the Obama campaign.

    This is not to begrudge these executives their salaries. It is only to point out that it is their interest that Sister Carol serves. And she serves them very much as a peer.
    Democrats have been claiming that the resistance to their proposed health care reform plan is being organized by well-funded insurance organizations. Well, here are some well-funded trade associations who seem very interested in seeing the democrat proposal come to fruition.

    So why is no one talking about that?

    In a related vein, I was pleased to see that the Knights of Columbus are taking the right sort of action:
    Delegates to the 127th annual convention of the Knights of Columbus Aug.6 adopted a resolution declaring opposition to “any health care reform legislation that does not explicitly exclude abortion coverage for any health insurance plan, public or private.”

    On Tuesday in his annual report to the convention, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson had sounded a similar note, saying, “Health care reform must be abortion free.”
    The resolution on Defending the Right to Life also called on “legislators everywhere to adopt legislation protecting the religious conscience rights of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, guaranteeing their right to refuse to participate in abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide or any other practice that is destructive of innocent human life or that conflicts with their sincerely-held religious beliefs.”
    The resolution reaffirmed the commitment of the 1.78 million member Knights of Columbus “to unconditional support for the right to life and full protection in law for every human being from conception to natural death.”
    That sounds much closer to an authentically Catholic starting point for health care reform.

    update 2: I am being made aware of statements by these organizations which commit themselves to supporting only pro-life legislation. That's excellent, but what we have in our hands right now is anti-life legislation, and I believe many Catholics believe that, in supporting Obamacare, they are following the advice of these Catholic organizations.

    So clearly we have some communication issues to straighten out over the next month.

    I will be posting more on this topic soon.

    update 3: here are statements from Catholic Charities and St. Vincent De Paul (PDF)

    The latest letter (July 30th PDF) from the Catholic Health Association's Advocacy wing is woefully-inadequate. We should focus our demands on CHA for them to clarify their position immediately.

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    Wednesday, August 05, 2009

    AP claims government insurance "would allow coverage for abortion"

    Yesterday I pointed out a very simple way to answer the abortion-in-health-care question.

    Today, the AP takes a long look at the complicated situation, and arrives at the same conclusion.

    If you're looking for the cliffsnotes version: the government proposals will allow abortion coverage.

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    Tuesday, August 04, 2009

    A very simple way to answer the abortion-in-health-care question

    Even my post of this morning does not quite clear up the question about the degree to which abortion is covered/mandated/funded in the proposed government plan/proposed government regulation of private health care insurance.

    Dan Gilgoff, who tries to look at both sides of this issue, can't find a definitive answer.

    My opinion is that we're making this way too complicated.

    What we have to realize is that proponents of abortion access will not be satisfied until abortion is completely mainstream and commonplace. They have long sought to define access to abortion as a feature of basic health care - no different than having your tonsils out.

    If the new proposals for government-run health care and government regulation of private insurance did not leave the door open to universal abortion access and coverage, the pro-aborts wouldn't be doing their job. The only reason they are actively seeking to keep the health care bills unchanged is because they are happy with what they see. If they were unsatisfied, after all, they would use their tremendous resources to get the bills changed more to their liking.

    Instead, because the new proposals will allow them to sneak in abortion access and funding in some permutation later, they are actively attacking those who are trying to sound the alarm now, notably the Family Research Council.

    To make my point one last time, an abortion-neutral or abortion-restrictive proposal would be a step back for their agenda. And so as long as they are content with what is moving forward, we should be gravely concerned.

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    Naming names in the ongoing abortion-in-health-care debate

    It should be a simple question - what is the status of abortion in the health care debate?

    I work in DC politics, and even I'm confused. 

    But I'll try to provide some clarity.

    The committee scramble that took place last friday before the House of Representatives went into its August recess came down decidedly against the side of life, as the National Catholic Register points out:
    Some pro-life Democrats joined with Republicans serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to amend the bill to prohibit funding for abortion services except in cases where a woman’s life is in danger or her pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

    But that amendment was reversed later in the day, when the Democratic leadership successfully pressured a pair of Democrats on the committee to vote against the amendment during a second vote, sending it down to a 30-29 defeat.

    The narrow margin in favor of the abortion mandate is an opportunity for Catholics and other pro-life Americans. They can lobby Congressional Democrats en masse, warning them that they are risking the defeat of the entire health care reform initiative if they insist on its inclusion in a bill that many Americans already have grave doubts about for other reasons.

    ... if the bishops are backed by their Catholic flocks as they continue to fight against the provision in the health care reform bill, that could change as the bill continues to progress through Congress.
    I blogged about this committee back-and-forth the day it happened over at APP. The bad guy masterminds in this case were Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Chairmen Henry Waxman (D-CA, pictured above).

    Here is how the declared catholic members of the committee split:
    Catholics voting against the amendment (anti-life) were Representatives John Dingell (D) of Michigan, Edward Markey (D) of Massachusetts, Frank Pallone, Jr. (D) of New Jersey, Anna Eshoo (D) of California, Mike Doyle (D) of Pennsylvania, Charles Gonzalez (D) of Texas, Jerry McNerney (D) of California, and Peter Welch (D) of Vermont.

    The Catholics who voted for the amendment (pro-life) were Bart Stupak (D) of Michigan, Charlie Melancon (D) of Louisiana, George Radanovich (R) of California, John Sullivan (R) of Oklahoma, Tim Murphy (R) of Pennsylvania, Phil Gingrey (R) of Georgia, and Steve Scalise (R) of Louisiana.
    Catholics have a major say in who gets to be a member of congress. So it's good to get into the habit of having a pen and paper handy. This way we can make more informed decisions as the next election approaches.

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    Friday, July 31, 2009

    Re-defeat: Abortion measure passes *then fails* in House

    update: the post below has been rendered meaningless by an 11th-hour move by Rep. Waxman (D-CA) which brought the amendment up for a second vote, and then defeated it by a one vote margin:
    An anti-abortion amendment to a sweeping health overhaul bill was voted down in a House committee late Thursday — a dramatic reversal just hours after the measure initially was approved.

    The amendment said health care legislation moving through Congress may not impose requirements for coverage of abortion, except in limited cases. It was approved in the Energy and Commerce Committee after conservative Democrats joined Republicans to support it.

    But committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., invoked House rules that allowed him to bring up the amendment for a second vote, despite Republican objections.

    This time, one conservative Democrat — Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee — changed his vote from "yes" to "no." And a second conservative Democrat who hadn't voted the first time — Rep. Zack Space of Ohio — voted "no."

    It was enough to take down the amendment on a 30-29 vote.
    See how dead set the Democrat leadership is on keeping abortion in this health care bill?

    ===

    original post....

    I typically don't post blogs in the evening, but this is important news which shouldn't wait till morning:
    Lawmakers have amended a sweeping health overhaul bill to ensure it does not require coverage of abortions.

    The anti-abortion measure was approved late Thursday in the House Energy and Commerce Committee as conservative Democrats banded with Republicans to support it.

    The amendment says health care overhaul legislation moving through Congress may not impose requirements for coverage of abortion, except in cases where a woman's life is endangered or her pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

    The amendment would have to survive the full House and Senate.

    The measure was offered by Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, along with Republicans Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Roy Blunt of Missouri. (AP)
    What we should take from this:
    1. Despite the attempt by pro-abortion groups to hide the truth, abortion is in this health care plan until the point that it is explicitly excluded. That's why we needed an amendment to rule it out.
    2. We're not there yet. This measure still has to be approved in the full House and Senate. Keep sending in the emails, making the phone calls, and find ways of meeting with your representatives as they go back to their home districts in August.
    3. Removing abortion coverage is a big step, but the health care reform plan still has serious flaws which also need to be examined over the coming weeks.
    But that said, praise God that some measure of sanity has been introduced into our nation's health care debate. Our efforts are meeting some success ... now let's redouble them.

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    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    Text: My response to Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL

    Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, wrote a letter to the editor and published it in Politico yesterday (ph/t Salon) in response to a piece by Tony Perkins of Family Research Council (available here):
    "Tony Perkins took 729 words to obscure a simple fact: What he and his allies are demanding is a new nationwide abortion ban in the private health insurance market (“Keep Abortion Funding Out of Health Care Reform,” July 28).

    Today, private plans can choose whether to cover the service — and most do. If Perkins succeeds, women who purchase private insurance that now covers abortion services will lose that coverage.

    The bills moving through Congress now do not reference abortion, so it’s obvious that Perkins is injecting this issue unnecessarily into the health reform debate in hopes that it will bring down the whole endeavor. That’s outrageous."
    Here is my response, which I will try to have published on Politico:
    Nancy Keenan took 106 words to cover-up a simple agenda. What she and her allies want is the greatest expansion of federally-funded abortions since Roe v. Wade. She is incorrect in claiming that Tony Perkins is "demanding ... a new nationwide abortion ban in the private health insurance market." Instead, he wants health care reform to respect existing laws which prevent federal funds from paying for abortions. The difference is that Perkins says his goal, while Keenan hides her own.
    Keenan incorrectly claims that Perkins wants women to lose their private insurance coverage of abortion. Instead, Perkins is only talking about the government's proposed public plan, which is not private insurance. It is one thing for private individuals to decide what their money pays for (such as abortion coverage in private insurance), it is another for government to force taxpayers to pay for abortion, to the exclusion of existing laws which the majority of Americans support.
    Perkins is not "injecting" the issue of federally-funded abortion into the bill, like Keenan claims. Otherwise, why have Democrats resisted every attempt to have abortion coverage excluded? If there is anything outrageous here, it is Keenan's efforts to obscure the facts.
    I'll update this post if my response is published.

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    Why are Catholic organizations rushing anti-life health care reform?

    Seeking healthcare for the needy is one thing,but  supporting the current draft of health care "reform" is entirely different, and I believe actually antithetical to the first idea.

    Now when I see this picture with (at least one) Catholic bishop in front of the USCCB offices in DC (I've walked by it often) .... I agree that we should seek health care that protects life ... but the fact of the matter is that the current form of health care reform we are looking at does not protect life. 

    So why on earth is this picture used in this video by the Catholic Health Association's campaign to pass health care reform "NOW"?! The picture ought to be featured in a video complaining that the current health care reform bill does not protect life ... so we're still waiting.

    This is not an isolated case. 

    Jack Smith describes what "NETWORK - A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby" (founded in 1971 by 47 women religious) is doing to support Obama's plan. 

    More importantly, Steven Ertelt tells us (ph/t, ALL) that three large Catholic organizations are mobilizing on behalf of Obama-care: Catholic Charities USA, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Catholic Health Association (whose ad I mention above). More:
    The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities USA sent out an action alert asking members to contact their legislators immediately.

    "Please call and e-mail your Representative in the next 24 hours expressing your support for Congress to enact health care reform now," the groups said in a joint action alert last week.

    "Saint Vincent de Paul is partnering with Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association to amplify our collective voice to let Congress know that health care reform can not wait," that group says on its web site.
    Kathleen Gilbert once again turned in some excellent reporting, and got someone on the phone:
    When LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) described the healthcare plan's abortion mandate to Roger Playwin, the National Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he interrupted to say: "The bishops' office has advised us that that's not accurate. So I can't speak to it, because all I know is that the bishops' office has said that story is going around, but it's inaccurate. That's all I know."
    Um, no, Mr. Playwin, you are mimicking the abortion-lobby's talking points.

    LifeSiteNews has posted easy ways of contacting the various organizations

    I could go into all of this in more detail, but I'll try to keep it short: telling people that Congress needs to fix health care "now" will only result in enacting a horrible piece of legislation which will not fix the problems it was written to solve, and will include many things which Catholics ought to oppose, such as mandated abortion coverage with taxpayer money.

    It's extremely disappointing to see organizations charged with caring for the poor making such poor prudential decisions. If you follow the LifeSiteNews link above you can read an embarrassing attempt to justify this decision when the simple facts, I submit, should make us conclude that current bloated form of legislation being considered in Congress is something we shouldn't wait to vote No on.

    The faster we get rid of this false start, the faster we can take a look at pursuing real health care reform.

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    Sunday, July 26, 2009

    NY hospital tried to force nurse to help with late-term abortion

    A sad preview of the future unless something is done:
    A New York City hospital is the subject of a lawsuit after allegations that it attempted to force a nurse to participate in a late-term abortion. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit yesterday against Mount Sinai Hospital on behalf of a Catholic nurse who says she told the hospital about her objections.

    Since 2004, officials at Mount Sinai Hospital knew that Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo had deeply-felt pro-life views and would not consent to assisting in an abortion.

    That didn't stop hospital officials from threatening her with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion.

    Despite the fact that the patient was not in crisis at the time of the surgery, the hospital insisted on her participation in the procedure on the grounds that it was an “emergency."

    Federal laws prohibit hospitals that receive federal funds from forcing employees to participate in abortion procedures under any circumstances but that apparently didn't stop Mount Sinai Hospital from asking Cenzon-DeCarlo to join in the abortion of the 22-week-old unborn child.

    ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman talked with LifeNews.com about the case.

    “Pro-life nurses shouldn't be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” he said. “Requiring a devout, Catholic nurse to participate in a late-term abortion in order to remain employed is illegal, unethical, and violates her rights of conscience." (LifeNews) (ADF)
    If Obama doesn't follow through on his promise, we can look forward to removing the description of "illegal" from this action which remains gravely "unethical" because it violates the conscience of the pro-life nurse.

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    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    AmP Poll: Do you support Obama's health care bill?

    AmP Weekend Poll: Do you support the current form of Obama's health care bill?

    As always, please explain the reasons for your vote in the comments below, and then send end the poll around to your friends, Twitter, Facebook and/or blog! I'd like to get the widest sampling of Catholics as possible. Thanks, papists!

    update: there's a glitch in the poll software I'm using which means you have to visit the blog homepage to see it appear correctly. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    My take on Obama's Health Care news conference

    I've written about last night's prime-time news conference on health care by Obama over on APP:

    As I wrote, "Amazingly, the crux of the debate is not even ideological or philosophical, but factual."
    And, I'll add here - what singular question was singularly absent from the evening's proceedings? That's right: abortion funding and democratic leadership refusal to remove it.

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    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Politics: Infanticide-promoter Peter Singer argues for rationing health care

    Peter Singer, a eugenicist who believes in infanticide, takes to the pages of the New York Times magazine to advocate rationing health care for you and me:
    "Rationing health care means getting value for the billions we are spending by setting limits on which treatments should be paid for from the public purse. If we ration we won’t be writing blank checks to pharmaceutical companies for their patented drugs, nor paying for whatever procedures doctors choose to recommend. When public funds subsidize health care or provide it directly, it is crazy not to try to get value for money. The debate over health care reform in the United States should start from the premise that some form of health care rationing is both inescapable and desirable. Then we can ask, What is the best way to do it?"
    Who would honestly want to be on the same side of a debate as Peter Singer?

    This is a man who admitted that if it was up to him, he might have pulled the plug on his sick mother (luckily his sister had joint care of her and wouldn't allow it). There is also some disagreement that he actually helped pay for his mother's health care costs - which contradicts his utilitarian philosophy.

    So either he is a hypocrite or a monster. And I'm disturbed that he likes Obama's socialized health care plan. With advocates like that, who needs critics?

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    Monday, July 13, 2009

    Senate Health Care Plan *does* fund abortions with taxpayer dollars

    Pro-abortion advocates in the House and Senate have been trying to hide the fact that, under their new health care plans, taxpayer dollars will be used to fund abortions. It's amazing to watch them try to squirm out of actually admitting it (as reported by FRC):
    HATCH: "...Would this include abortion providers? I mean, it looks to me like you're expanding it to... for instance, Planned Parenthood. Would that put them into this system?"
    MIKULSKI: "It would include women's health clinics that provide comprehensive services and under the definition of a woman's health clinic, it would include, uh, it would include, uh, Planned, uh, Parenthood clinics. It would, um, it does not expand in any way expand a service. In other words, it does not expand, um, uh, or mandate abortion service."
    HATCH: "No, but it would provide for them."
    MIKULSKI: "It would provide for any service deemed medically necessary or medically appropriate."
    HATCH: "Well, I would have a rough time supporting it on that basis. I just wanted to get that clarified. Thank you."
    Later...
    HATCH: "Madam Chairman, would you be willing to put some language in [about] not including abortion services? Then I think you would have more support."
    MIKULSKI: "...No, I would not, uh, be willing to do that at this time." 
    FRC also reports the sad news that an attempt to scratch abortion coverage was defeated 11-12:
    Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) was the only Democrat to stand his ground and vote for life. If you'd like to help FRC in this battle to ban taxpayer-funded abortion, log on to our new site, www.clearconsciencehealthcare.org, dedicated to promoting the rights to life and conscience.
    Now Planned Parenthood is desperate to get (more) federal money. And here's how they put it:
    "We've been deeply concerned that women would be the first targets in health care reform and now it's happened. Yesterday, anti-choice Senator Orrin Hatch launched an attack on Planned Parenthood and the U.S. senators who were trying to help women."
    Take a look at this Planned Parenthood claim:
    "Instead of telling the truth, [Sen. Hatch] claimed that it mandates abortion coverage in an attempt to drum up opposition. This is an outright lie — and we need your help to fight back."
    But if Planned Parenthood is telling the truth, and abortions won't be covered... then why did Sen. Mikulski oppose adding language to explicitly exclude abortions? Because Planned Parenthood is lying.

    Jodi Jacobson at my favorite-radical-abortion-agenda-website-to-expose RH Reality Check mimes the Planned Parenthood talking points and claims that abortions won't be covered. Well she's right - abortions aren't covered directly. Abortion providers are covered. But that's not really a difference, is it?

    Because the pro-life movement is under fairly constant attack these days for using "incendiary" language, let's extract a few lines from the super-popular liberal blog DailyKos:
    [Senator] Hatch! I pay for YOUR health care, I've paid for your health care for years with my tax dollar.

    Now, you'd better listen up and get it straight about health care for American women.

    And you can take your anti-woman religiosity and stuff it up in your place where the sun never shines.

    We American woman are getting mighty tired of the idiotic shenigans of Republican Senators, from David Vitter, the whoremaster of Louisiana, to Larry Craig of Idaho who tap dances in men's bathrooms, to John Ensign of Nevada and his corrupt crony Tom Coburn of Oklahoma who heads the secret sweety payoff to silence committee.
    Ah, don't you love that liberal temperate language?

    LifeNews recommends taking this action if you are concerned about your tax dollars paying for abortions:
    See the members of the committee and send them an email or call them in response to the vote for the pro-abortion Mikulski amendment. Tell them you don't want abortion coverage in health care.
    Phone calls are more effective than emails. And don't be scared about picking up the phone - the staff of these offices are used to hearing from the constituents back home. Add your voice.

    update: video:

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    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    On APP: How abortion might be snuck into government health care

    Over at the American Principles Project blog, I explain how I think abortion coverage might be included in the new government health care plan being debated in the House of Representatives. Scary stuff. 

    I also include information on how to contact the members of the Senate Finance Committee who could make sure it isn't included. Abortions aren't "basic coverage", and we shouldn't have to pay for them.

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    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Flash: Obama to give speech at Georgetown U. today

    The President evidently has a penchant for Catholic universities:
    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will deliver a major speech on the economy Tuesday, April 14th, at Georgetown University. The speech will take place at 11:30 AM EDT in Gaston Hall.

    The President will discuss how each step his administration has taken to confront this economic crisis fits within his broader vision of how we move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity. He’ll also talk about the significant work that remains to be done to get the economy moving forward once again. [WhiteHouse.gov]
    This speech will be taking place a few blocks from where I live.

    I, however, will be in New York City today preparing for Archbishop Dolan's Installation activities.

    If I had a chance to ask a question, I would ask how Obama thinks pushing Catholics and Catholic Hospitals out of the health care market (by revoking conscience clauses and enacting FOCA-like legislation) makes any sort of economic sense and will help lead us to "prosperity."

    Hopefully someone asks him.

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    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Picture: Meet your new Catholic pro-abort Health Secretary

    Sure seems that way:
    "While House officials say President Barack Obama will name pro-abortion Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who has been criticized for refusing to limit late-term abortions, as the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department.

    Once official, her selection would add to Obama's growing pro-abortion record as president.

    Obama advisors notified the media late Wednesday that the president has settled on Sebelius as his top choice for the position, though her has not made his decision official." (LifeNews)
    Kathleen "I'm-so-incredibly-pro-abortion-my-own-archbishop-came-out-and-told-me-to-quit-receiving-Communion" Sebelius.

    Kathleen "I-took-almost-$40,000-in-political-funding-from-criminally-charged-late-term-abortion-provider-George-Tiller" Sebelius.

    I'm not looking forward to the next nickname.

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    Monday, February 02, 2009

    Obama's HHS pick Tom Daschle in hot water for failing to pay taxes

    I've already stated my strong reservations about Tom Daschle being appointed head of Health and Human Services by Barack Obama.

    Now it appears he failed to pay more than $120,000 in back taxes:

    Trying to salvage his nomination, Tom Daschle apologized Monday for delinquent tax payments as President Barack Obama and a top Senate chairman stood by him as the choice to lead the Health and Human Services Department.

    Following a weekend of revelations about taxes and potential ethical conflicts, Daschle expressed remorse to the Senate Finance Committee, the panel that will decide his fate, saying he was "deeply embarrassed and disappointed" about failing to pay more than $120,000 in back taxes. (AP)

    Of course, should Daschle's name be withdrawn, it is practically guaranteed that someone as problematic will be nominated in his stead, namely, another pro-abortion politician. It's just hard to catch a break these days.
    update: oh, and on a completely superficial note - what is up with Daschle's red party glasses?!

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