WASHINGTON — Senators writing a health care overhaul bill on Wednesday rejected a bid to strengthen anti-abortion provisions already in the legislation, in a vote that could have far-reaching repercussions.
The 13-10 vote by the Senate Finance Committee could threaten support for health care overhaul from some Catholics who back its broad goal of expanding coverage.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, argued that provisions already in the bill to restrict federal funding for abortions needed to be tightened to guarantee they would be ironclad.
But his argument failed to carry the day. One Republican — Olympia Snowe of Maine — voted with the majority. One Democrat — Kent Conrad of North Dakota — supported Hatch.
Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., argued that his bill already incorporates federal law that bars abortion funding, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. It would require health plans to keep federal subsidies separate from any funds used to pay for abortions in all other cases.
The concern from abortion opponents — including Catholic bishops — is that those underlying restrictions have to be renewed every year. If Congress fails to renew the ban one year, plans funded through the health care overhaul would be allowed to cover the procedure, abortion opponents contend. [...]
The committee also rejected, 13-10, a Hatch conscience amendment that would have strengthened provisions to protect health care workers who refuse to perform abortions and other procedures because of religious or moral objections. [Emphasis added-E.M.]
The excellent blogger Jack Smith of The Catholic Key points out something particularly shameful about this:
Bottom line: Both conscience protection and a ban of federal funding would have passed but for the Catholic Senators.
News came out earlier today, that the Senate Finance Committee led by Senator Max Baucus refused to accept an amendment proposed by Senator Orrin Hatch specifically excluding federal funding of abortion in that committee’s version of health care reform. The vote was 10-13 against the Hatch Amendment. All Democrats on the committee, except Kent Conrad, opposed the amendment. All Republicans, except Olympia Snowe, supported it.
There is nothing surprising about the vote. Far more disturbing was a later vote by the same margin denying conscience protection to doctors, health care facilities and hospitals which refuse to perform abortions. Thirteen Senators, including Catholics John Kerry, Maria Cantwell and Robert Menendez, voted against a second Hatch Amendment which would have protected Catholics and other conscientious objectors to abortion from discrimination by the Federal Government. [...]
None of the Senators who voted for both amendments are Catholic. The margin was three votes – the same number of Catholic members of the committee who voted against both amendments – proving once again that on balance, it would be better for the unborn and for the interests of the Catholic Church if Catholics were barred from public office.
Think about that sentence: that it would be better for the unborn and for the Church if Catholics were barred from public office. That is our shame, as Catholics in America today. That is something our bishops should be decrying in homily after homily--that Catholics are so unfaithful to the teachings of the Church on the dignity and sanctity of human life. Instead, some of our bishops seem more inclined to honor the enemies of life--provided they walk among the rich and powerful, that is.
And the rich and powerful love abortion. So committed are they to its practice that they refuse even to vote to protect the conscience rights of those of us who know abortion is murder and will not participate in it. That is an ominous sign of what is to come; will a national health-care bill destroy, once and for all, the rights of doctors and nurses to be pro-life while continuing to practice medicine?
Jack Smith provides the names of the three Catholic Senators whose votes were key in defeating the conscience protection amendment. They are: John Kerry of Massachusetts, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Maria Cantwell of Washington State. All are Catholic. John Kerry's support for abortion needs no detailing, but Maria Cantwell proudly calls herself "100% pro-choice" (sic) and voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence act (so apparently it's fine with her if someone murders an unborn infant during the commission of a crime). Like Maria Cantwell, Robert Menendez has a 100% 'pro-choice' rating from NARAL, voted against the Partial Birth Abortion ban (so I guess a partially delivered human child is only 3/4ths of a person, to him) and supports all forms of embryonic stem cell research.
I think it's time for us Catholics in the pews to take the gloves off, as far as these wretches are concerned. It's time to stop falling for the, "Well, but except for abortion this person is the most Catholic choice" nonsense. It's time to quit putting up with these moral midgets showing up in Catholic churches and Catholic schools to be lauded and applauded, while we ignore the pools of blood that drip from their incarnadine hands. It's time to stop letting them get away with calling themselves good Catholics, or even, outrageously, "devout Catholics," as if it were possible even for a moment to support the vile murders of millions of unborn humans while remaining even remotely Catholic in anything but the most trivial cultural context. The only kind of Catholic who can support abortion is a faithless one, who doesn't give a damn about the eternal consequences of his support for the egregious butchery and savage slaughter of the ones who are truly the least of his brothers and sisters.
It's time for us pro-life Catholics to throw down the gauntlet. When pro-abortion Catholics show up to receive accolades in any Catholic venue, we should be there--with our picket signs and protest banners (hey, the one thing we did learn over the last 40 years of Catholic life was how to make banners, right?). When our bishops welcome pro-abort Catholics to special Masses or meetings, we should be there, too, kneeling outside in solidarity with our murdered unborn brothers and sisters. If a bishop who is quiet about abortion wants money to fund some social justice initiative, we should contribute the money instead to a pro-life charity, and then write to the bishop explaining our choice to do so.
The only reason pro-abort "Catholics" get away with promoting the murder of the unborn with one hand while crossing themselves with the other is because we don't stand up and call them out for this monstrous inconsistency. It's time we all started doing exactly that.