The Democratic leadership in Washington wants you to believe that the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church are trying to create a theocracy and reverse Roe v. Wade with one congressional vote. (As if anyone could.) Don’t get suckered in by the lies of the president and the pro-choice Catholics he has flanking him as cover, most notably Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
On the eve of the White House’s Blair House summit on health care, the official body of the Catholic bishops in the United States insisted in a letter to the president that “health care legislation must respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers, purchasers of insurance and others, not violate them.” That’s not an effort to usurp Caesar’s authority and move toward theocracy; that’s moral leaders looking out for moral law (upon which our nation was founded, by the way), religious liberty, and the rights of the most innocent among us.
Most of the time, it has been unclear what exactly the president is talking about when he pushes his health-care revolution. There have always been multiple proposed bills at any given moment. Now there are multiple passed bills. Going into this week’s summit, the White House relied mostly on the Senate bill, which does not prohibit abortion funding. Nancy Pelosi is misleading when she claims the Hyde Amendment — which is subject to annual votes and applies only to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services — makes the abortion debate irrelevant in the health-care debate. First of all, Ben Nelson’s faux compromise in the Senate bill allows federally paid-for insurance plans to cover abortions. Second of all, as the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has clearly explained, $7 billion appropriated to Community Health Centers can also be used for abortions. Further still, the health-care legislation currently on the table allows for abortion funding on Indian reservations and leaves out the conscience-clause language that wound up in the final version of the House bill, at least in round one.
As Douglas Johnson of the NRLC points out, “the Senate produced a final bill that is the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation to reach the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade.”
The White House ignored an obvious call to invite to the summit Bart Stupak, the pro-life Michigan Democrat who has led the effort to prohibit funding of abortion in health-care legislation. Stupak succeeded in the House, but his language didn’t make it into the Senate version, nor into the latest iteration of the bill. House Minority Leader John Boehner, at the summit on Thursday, said: “For 30 years, we’ve had a federal law that says that we’re not going to have taxpayer funding of abortions. We have had this debate in the House. It was a very serious debate. . . . The House upheld the language we have had in law for 30 years that there will be no taxpayer funding of abortions. This bill that we have before us, and there was no reference to the issue in your outline, Mr. President, begins for the first time in 30 years allows the taxpayer funding of abortion.” Late last week, he insisted that “the sanctity of life” is an “issue that [Republicans] won’t bend on.” He recounted: “In November, pro-life lawmakers joined together to stop Democrats from using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion procedures. We got some flak for working with the other party on this — but on protecting the unborn, there’s no compromise.”
Boehner echoed a declaration signed by a group of religious leaders late last year, which explained: “Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions.”
If there was ever a reason for a tea party — for civic activism — this is it. Don’t let conscience violations stand. Encourage Bart Stupak and those Democrats who want to defend the most innocent among us. If 72 percent of American voters are against government funding of abortion, where are we all? At the White House summit yesterday, John Boehner represented you. President Obama ignored you. Nancy Pelosi lied to you. Don’t wait for Nancy Pelosi’s bishop to point it out. Rachet up your civic activism. Don’t wait for a politician or religious leader to do it for you.
Speaking to Congress in September, President Obama claimed that “under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.” More than a year into his presidency, that’s simply not the case. And you don’t have to be a Catholic bishop to see it and to protest it. If you’re a citizen whose conscience is about to be violated by legislation that representatives in Washington are lying to you about, what are you waiting for? Call. Write. Protest. (Encourage, too, where appropriate!) Inform. Even run. Respectfully, but adamantly. Democratic leaders in Washington are now fluctuating between ignoring and lying to you because they think they can eventually pull one over on you. It’s time to speak up.
– Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. She can be reached at email@example.com.