Sunday, March 21, 2010

Getting Close to the End Game on Obamacare

The Rules Committee has dropped the Slaughter solution of deem and pass (or the snarkier "Demon pass," if you prefer) and has set debate for 2 hours on the Senate bill and the reconciliation bill, with votes to be taken separately at around 1 PM CDT. If the votes are there, or if the Speaker thinks she put can put enough squeeze on a few unsure members, the vote will occur tomorrow. If not, then not; at least for a few days.

The Senate bill, while indirect, has a well understood path to fund abortions, and the reconciliation bill will not contain unambiguous restrictions. There is some talk about the president promising to issue an Executive Order to prevent abortion funding, but the fungible nature of any such order, from a president so ardently opposed to a funding ban in principle, renders it mainly symbolic, if it were even to occur. That means this bill is "as/is" regarding abortion.

Lest any Catholic representatives think they can hide behind the endorsements of misguided groups of Catholics, the bishops conference set the record straight on Saturday in no uncertain terms, a vote for the Senate bill is a vote against Life:
Now, after a year of divisive political combat, members of the House are told that they can advance health care reform only by adopting the Senate legislation as is, including these fundamental flaws. The House leadership is ignoring the pleas of pro-life members for essential changes in the legislation. Apparently they will not even try to address the serious problems on abortion funding, conscience protection and fair treatment of immigrants.

We are bishops, not politicians, policy experts or legislative tacticians. We are also pastors, teachers, and citizens. At this point of decision, we cannot compromise on basic moral principles. We can only urge -- and hope and pray -- that the House of Representatives will still find the will and the means to adopt health care reform that protects the life, dignity, conscience and health of all. The legislation the House adopted, while not perfect, came closer to meeting these criteria. The Senate legislation simply does not meet them.

With deep regret, but clear in our moral judgment, we are compelled to continue to urge House members to oppose the Senate bill unless these fundamental flaws are remedied. At this critical moment, we urge Representatives to take the steps necessary to ensure that health care reform respects the life and dignity of all, from conception to natural death.
The candles are burning, and now we pray.

Update: e-mailed a round-up of the corrections from the USCCB and other faithful religious regarding the authentic Catholic position:

The final battle looms over the Senate health care bill which seeks the greatest expansion of the abortion license since Roe v. Wade. In the wake of stories that nearly 60,000 nuns support the Senate bill and that this support has weakened the resolve of some Democrats who have opposed the bill, the U.S. bishops have gone on the offensive with further statements and newspaper ads.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (which represents the orders in the United States typically obedient to the Holy See) has also entered the fray to give the lie to the claim that those who are pro-abortion speak for all American religious. Here are the key news stories:

In addition, to get the full argument from the President of the USCCB, see Cardinal George's statement The Cost is too High; the Loss is too Great. If you wish to follow the Bishops and make an impact on Congress but don't know how, see Health Care: How to Contact Your Representatives.

Update 2:

Regardless the unreliability we could expect from a president who would fund abortions in other countries, but would allegedly apply the principles of the Hyde Amendment, the bishops reminded congressional Catholics that it is out of the president's hands. The reason for the Hyde Amendment was that such funding was determined by the courts to be required of the federal government unless explicity proscribed by Congress. Smooth move, Stupak.

Update 3:

It's over.

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