Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bishop Cordileone Makes the Case

Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone appeared on Fox News on March 10. The full video of the segment is embedded below.

Especially this far into the now-months-long health care debate, Bishop Cordileone's interview underscores once again the constancy of the Catholic Church and the U.S. Bishops on this issue.

The bishops have said from the beginning of this debate that they've favored health care reform for decades, and they've said that their support includes a few basic principles -- that health care reform be genuine reform that is truly accessible and affordable, covering everyone, including the unborn, the elderly, the immigrant and the poor. Therefore, they've stated, health care reform shouldn't promote the taking of anyone's life (i.e. the unborn) and shouldn't force anyone to act against his or her conscience (i.e. by forcing someone to pay for abortions).

In all the twists and turns of the health care legislative process, this message hasn't wavered.

Another area where the bishops haven't wavered is their commitment to the agreement made by all sides in the health care debate that health care reform was too important in its own right to turn into a vehicle for the abortion debate. To paraphrase President Obama, this would be about health care reform, not abortion reform, meaning whatever health care bill passed, it should preserve the current and longstanding federal policies on abortion and abortiong funding. In this case, that would be the Hyde Amendment, which has been a part of every appropriations bill since the 1970s and prohibits federal funds from going to abortion or to health insurance plans that cover abortion.

This is what Bishop Cordileone and the rest of the U.S. Bishops are talking about when they speak of health care reform needing to reflect the status quo.

Going off of this, the bishops find the Senate bill, which is being used as the basis for a final health care bill, problematic because it opens up several new avenues of federal abortion funding. The bishops opposed the Senate bill when it was first passed on Christmas Eve for these reasons and still insist that these changes be made to the final health care bill.

An important aspect of this debate is also highlighted by the Fox News/Cordileone video. Prior to the bishop's segment, two representatives are shown speaking. The second one implies that health care reform is being derailed by people who want abortion to be illegalized and are blocking the vote.

The sad reality is that it's the supporters of federal funding of abortion who have derailed health care and who will ultimately be responsible should the legislation fail.

Again, the U.S. Bishops have stated from the beginning that they want health care reform, and they've offered unwavering criteria for morally acceptable reform from the beginning. Similarly, pro-life Democrats like Bart Stupak and others have stated that they too want to see health care reform, but would need legislation that did not violate the status quo on federal abortion funding.

The House met this modest requirement by adopting the Stupak Amendment to its bill. The Senate went out of its way to reject an amendment that would have done the same. Then, after building into the Senate bill the very provisions that would likely doom it, proponents of federal abortion funding are either exhibiting tremendous nerve or a poor command of the facts to say that they are the ones preserving the status quo and that the other side is somehow taking advantage of health care reform to promote an agenda. Or as a recent USCCB resource states it, "Genuine health care reform is being blocked by those who insist on reversing widely supported policies against federal funding of abortion and plans which include abortion, not by those working simply to preserve these longstanding protections."

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