Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kmiec Syndrome

The Christian Science Monitor is detailing the crumbling of the Catholic/pro-life health care consensus, as some Catholics and other pro-life individuals stick their fingers in the wind and declare themselves in favor of Obamacare, no matter how many dead babies taxpayers have to pay to kill:
A widening split among opponents of abortion could help pave the way to passage for President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation.

Increasingly, abortion foes – including high-profile Catholic organizations and members of Congress – are saying that while the language aimed at preventing use of federal funds for abortion is not perfect, the bill is still worth passing as a first step. [...]

In addition, some Catholic Democrats in Congress who oppose abortion have begun to peel away and signal either definite or likely support for the president’s plan, which is the Senate-passed version, plus fixes (none of them abortion-related).

“At this point, I’m confident the Senate language upholds my pro-life values,” said Rep. Charlie Wilson (D) of Ohio on a conference call Thursday.

Congressman Wilson, who is Catholic, added that he needed to review the final version of the bill, which was released Thursday afternoon, but seemed headed toward “yes.” In his remarks, Wilson cited the thousands of Americans who die every year without healthcare. “We must value these lives as well,” he said.

On Wednesday, Rep. Dale Kildee (D) of Michigan, another Catholic abortion opponent, announced he would vote “yes” on the Senate plan.

While this is depressing news, it's not entirely unexpected. These Catholic pro-life Democrats appear to be suffering from Kmiec Syndrome, in which Catholics who are pro-life manage to contort their values in all sorts of ways in order to stay in good favor with Barack Obama.

Unlike pro-abort Catholics who pretend that abortion is consistent with Catholic values (because everybody connects the words "Catholic" and "the grisly dismembering of unborn human infants," right?), Catholics who suffer from Kmiec Syndrome are pro-life. They believe, some of them passionately, that unborn human children have the right to remain alive--except when that would be inconvenient to the president, who is really a swell, standup kind of guy who deserves to succeed in all of his legislative initiatives, administration agenda items, and at golf. They're not in favor of killing babies. In a perfect world, they'd rather American taxpayers didn't have to have their tax money put toward the extermination of the poor. But hey, poor women can't afford abortions otherwise, and while Kmiec Syndrome Catholic Democrats are perfectly prepared to deplore abortion and make the appropriate sober frowny-faces when talking about it, in the end, it's more of a priority to put Democrats in charge of health care than it is to save babies. That's just the political reality, and Kmiec Syndrome Catholic Dems are as sorry about it as anybody.

Unfortunately, the biggest, surest way to turn a pro-life Democrat into a Kmiec Syndrome Democrat is to vote for him. Aside from the Stupak Exception, most pro-life Democrats are quite fearless in their defense of life, so long as they aren't actually holding office. But just as moonlight affects werewolves (or midnight feedings affect Gremlins), being elected affects pro-life Catholic Democrats. They start using words from the Pelosi vocabulary, ambiguous, nebulous words about choosing and deeming and studying. They start feeling the strain of divided loyalty, to the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life on the one hand, and to the President and the rest of the Democratic Party on the other.

Clearly, the kindest thing to do in regard to pro-life Democrats is to stop voting for Democrats at all (again, the Stupak Exception still applies, and will unless this gentleman starts displaying signs of Kmiec Syndrome). The only cure for the Kmiec Syndrome so many pro-life Catholic Democrats are suffering from is to lose an election or two.

Of course, this doesn't begin to address pro-abortion Catholic Democrat syndrome (or Pelosi Syndrome). But at least, with the pro-abort "Catholic" Democrats, we never had any illusions that they were on our side, and are not now feeling the pangs of disillusionment and a sense of betrayal.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

This is not an area where you and I will find profound agreement -- I don't mean abortion, I mean health care. As far as I was concerned, the Stupak amendments were all perfectly acceptable. There is a tangled mess here. Some people who are really opposed to health care reform, but find abortion a convenient foil for trying to stop it. Some people are for health care reform, but really concerned about abortion. Some people are for health care reform, and really want open season for all the money they can get for Planned Parenthood from insurance companies and federal funding -- as you've pointed out in earlier posts. I suppose there may be some people who are passionately opposed to both abortion and health care reform on principle -- in fact, I sometimes have the impression that is your brand of conservatism.

I don't know what the big deal is. Nothing in the bill is going to ban any woman from seeking, or any doctor from performing, an abortion. The only issue is who pays for it. Both houses agreed on language to avoid federal funding subsidizing an abortion. I've heard that the senate language is weaker, although I'm not sure why. Anyone who is not saying no to both on principle has to be open to political realities.

I'm pro choice, as you know. I have no objection to the Stupak amendments, because there is no constitutional right to have an abortion -- I do think Roe v. Wade sets some proper restraints on the intervention of the blunt instrument of the law. But, just because you won't go to prison doesn't mean it is the right choice. It has always been the political reality that Stupak had the votes to force some language about abortion funding, or no bill would pass. So be it. Right now, it is political reality that no bill will be passed without initially accepting the previous senate language. Like most Americans, I would like to redraft the bill, to my own personal satisfaction, but this bill is far less disastrous than no bill. There will be some tweaking needed, and Stupak, like everyone else, will get another shot.

The only perspective from which I can really understand this being really depressing, is for someone who simply opposed the entire health care reform bill, and hoped the abortion issue would deny it enough votes to kill the entire thing. That's a legitimate principled position -- although one I disagree with. But the significance for the number of abortions performed in America is miniscule in any event.

MTJ said...

Don't you think they deserve the benefit of the doubt? While I'm not an expert in these matters, it appears to me that the differences between the Nelson and Stupak solutions have been greatly exaggerated. Stupak allows people to purchase a rider, and Nelson requires them to write a separate check. Both ultimately allow the subsidization of insurance companies that cover abortion, just as the Hyde Amendment allows the subsidization of hospitals that perform abortions (though I think that the Nelson amendment could arguably cause insurers to stop offering abortion coverage altogether). As long as abortion is legal, this will always be the case with ANY federal funding of ANYTHING related to health care.