Saying that no present proposals for health care reform adequately restrict federal funding for abortions, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has called on President Obama to fulfill his past promise for such restrictions. Criticizing “confusing political doubletalk” about the issue, he said that Catholics need to “vigorously oppose” the bills in their present form.
Writing in his Nov. 4 column for the Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Chaput noted President Obama’s promise, voiced in an address to Congress on Sept. 9, that “his” health care plan would not provide public monies for abortion.
Though the president is solidly dedicated to preserving federal protections for legalized abortion, the Archbishop of Denver suggested that this gives him political space to compromise.
“Excluding abortion funding from the president's health-care efforts – I mean really excluding it and not sneaking it in under the cover of some bureaucratic shell game – would be an easy concession for Congress and the White House to make. It's a modest price to pay for Catholic and similar prolife support, or at least their neutrality. It might also put some meat on the bones of Washington's talk about “'common ground,'” the archbishop wrote.
Saying that “not one” of the present legislative proposals for health care reform lives up to President Obama’s promise to exclude abortion funding, Archbishop Chaput said that since last August the U.S. bishops and their staff have “worked tirelessly” with Congress and the White House to help craft “mutually acceptable” legislation.
“Let's remember that America's Catholic bishops have pushed for national health care reform for decades, long before our mass media discovered it as a theme,” he wrote, emphasizing that health care must include the unborn child.
“But every effort by concerned members of Congress to ensure morally acceptable legislation – despite the outstanding leadership of Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak – has been rebuffed, often with the kind of political doubletalk that seems deliberately designed to confuse,” he continued.
“The health-care reform debate has been dogged by a pattern of misleading, complex and at times flatly dishonest claims in Congress about the content of the 2,000 page legislation now taking final shape and nearing a vote. Don’t be fooled.”
Not one of the proposals offers true “common ground” on issues vital to Catholics, Archbishop Chaput added, reporting that leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced that efforts to revise the proposals have failed.
“All of the health-care reform solutions currently facing Congress violate human dignity in potentially grievous ways. Unless these proposals are immediately changed to reflect the concerns of Congressman Stupak, other like-minded members of Congress, and leaders of the national Catholic community, Catholics need to vigorously oppose and help defeat this dangerous legislation.”
The archbishop announced that he and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley would speak directly to the Catholics of his archdiocese in a letter read at all Masses.
He also urged Catholics to contact their senators and representative immediately to demand Catholic and pro-life concerns be respected in health care legislation.
More information about the health care debate can be found at: www.usccb.org/healthcare.