A Catholic Split on Health Care Reform

A new editorial in the Roman Catholic periodical Commonweal highlights a key division among Catholics over the recently passed health care reform bill. In short, this division is over questions of whether the bill provides government support for abortion.

Because insurance plans that offer abortion will be available through government-established exchanges (through which those eligible will be able to purchase plans using government subsidies for premiums), critics — including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — have sided with the religious right in opposing the new law. Other Catholics, however, note that the law requires insurers to pay for abortion services with private funds paid by individual subscribers, not with money obtained from government subsidies for premiums. That is little different from the current situation in which Medicare and Medicaid pay for medical services at hospitals that independently (with private funds) provide abortions.

The issue also involves the question of whether lay Catholics have the right to rely on their own conscience to make decisions about civic issues such as health care reform even when such decisions might run counter to the wishes of the church hierarchy.

Of course, the debate is more complicated than our simple summary here. You can read the USCCB’s point of view here and an argument from Catholics supporting the law here.

The Texas Freedom Network has taken no formal position on health care reform — the issue is beyond our mission. TFN Insider has, however, on occasion noted the far right’s extremist rhetoric in attacking reform legislation. We hope that the ongoing debate among Catholics will in the end illuminate a path to mutual understanding rather than one in which faith becomes a weapon in political warfare. We have already seen too little of the former and far too much of the latter from the religious right in Texas and across the country.

7 thoughts on “A Catholic Split on Health Care Reform

  1. Congress and social progress are captive to the Hyde Abortion Funding Amendment: it is time to repeal it.
    Bernard Kaye, Frisco, Texas

  2. The day that any man, including a priest, can become pregnant, THEN they gripe about abortion one way or the other. Personally, I’d never have had one, but I’ll be damned if I’ll tell another woman what to do with her body.

    A zygot is not a human being; it is just some cells that might become a human or abort on itself or be born with any number of birth defects.

    I go ballistic whenever I hear some ignorant moron say, “Well, it’s only 9 months.” Yeah, what about the next 18 years and then the rest of your life? I don’t see anti-abortion jackasses volunteering to take the kid and raise it. It costs about $200,000 to raise a child from birth to 18 years old. I don’t see those people volunteering to cough up the money to support the child.

    All that stopping legal abortion will result in is those back alley criminals who use primitive tools to destroying not just the growing fetus, but killing the mother because the abortionists don’t worry about sterilizing their equipment.

    The commandment to make more babies has been LONG made unnecessary. We have world-wide hunger, housing shortages, etc. yet people are concerning themselves with even MORE people? What a farce.

  3. As Margie used to say with a long sigh, “Wa-a-a-a-a-a-yul.”

    My aunt was an evangelical and essentially a fundamentalist, who was vehemently opposed to abortion, mostly because she was never able to have children of her own and was thinking constantly that the adoptable white baby she always wanted was probably being aborted at every new moment in time. The state tried to make them adopt a black baby, but they refused. Better bitter and childless than black—or so I was led to believe.

    However, we need to be clear on this issue of the Roman Catholic Church, American evangelicals/fundamentalists, and abortion. American evangelicals and fundamentalists have despised Roman Catholicism ever since 1517 when there were no evangelicals or Christian fundamentalists. They subscribe to retroactive history in the sense that if they had been there back then, they would have opposed Catholicism just as much as they do now. The two appear to be cooperating somewhat in the pro-life effort these days, but I would not expect much else to ever come of it—-and even this new cooperation may not last long. The distrust and anger at each other run too deep. Visit any Christian fundamentalist website, and it will have a “We Hate Catholicism” corner open with a welcome sign for the reader. For example, see this one:


    My aunt was never shy about giving me her personal perspective on it when I was a child. Her position was that all Roman Catholics want to do is destroy the protestant churches and assure that they will attain and keep world domination. To do that, they must assure that the population of Roman Catholics in the world will one day achieve and always retain population numbers that far exceed that of the protestants and other world religions—and assure that they will continue to multiply faster and faster and faster. The way Roman Catholics decided to do this was to prevent effective birth control and prohibit abortion among Catholics. From her perspective, assorted papal bulls, encyclicals, and religious pronouncements about the sanctity of unborn human life and morality in the obstetric realm were nothing more than a false smoke screen of hollow and not really meant bulldoody that the Catholic hierarchy dreamed up specifically to camouflage their much darker and more foreboding conspiracy for worldwide religious domination. In other words, from her view, you can be opposed to abortion and still despise the Catholics because their opposition to abortion is a bunch of fake hooey at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church and carried out mindlessly by their followers at the lowest levels in the church.

    Now, I am not saying that my aunt was right. I am just saying that any relations between the Catholics and evangelicals/fundamentalists with regard to birth control and abortion (despite anything they might say in public)
    is probably held together with little more than dried spit, chewing gum, and tattered Band-Aids.

    I actually pretty much like the Roman Catholic Church. I disagree with major points of their theology, but agree with their stance on evolution, science, and other things. However, no matter what the reason might be, I find their stance against the use of effective birth control to be unconscionable in a world that is polluted and rapidly running out of natural resources. I think history, looking backwards in time from some point in the future, will show that it was a heinous and completely immoral position that cost the lives of millions upon millions in the name nurturing life. It will be a Catholic Waterloo just like the Reformation, the Inquisition, the accusations against Galileo, and the way American Indian populations were treated by the Spanish conquistadors in the New World.

  4. The catholics claiming that “Obama Plan” supports abortion do so for political reasons and not out of Truth. If you trace it back you will probably find that the “germ” for this view came from those conservative Cardinals who would claim that Jesus Christ is a Communist because he taught us to take care of the least able among us.

    No only are they liars but they are a disgrace to the basic principles of their religion.

  5. Brandon, I’m glad that YOU can afford health insurance AND that you are insurable. For reasons beyond their control, millions of Americans cannot afford the outrageous premiums the insurance companies demand. I’m on Medicare. Gift from the government? Hell no. I have been paying FICA my entire working life (starting at age 12). The last time I was hospitalized, my total bill was equal to THREE TIMES MY ANNUAL INCOME! Apparently, you are relatively young and have good genes.

    Abortion: Religion is the root of all evil, not the love of money. More human life has been destroyed by religious wars than by abortions. Ignorance and prejudice and flat-out stupidity cause people to defend the dogmas of their religion. (My karma just ran over your dogma!)

    While following an idiotic link that Charles posted, I had to laugh at the idioticy of a cartoon showing a person running towards a KJV and away from all other versions such as the NIV, and all other versions with flames of hell shooting up if people don’t run to the KJV which happens to be one of the worst versions ever foisted upon Christianity. Plus, verily I say unto thee, we no longer speaketh the archaic language in the KJV.

    The lack of scholarship in the 1600s as compared to that of today can best be illustrated by comparing a Chinese bottle rocket to the space shuttle. The prejudice that existed back then affected the way it was “translated.” One glaring example is the word Passover (pesach) in both Hebrew and Greek was changed to Easter. Why? “Too Jewish.” Easter is a pagan fertility rite of Spring, thus rabbits spewing out eggs and other absurd practices. Oh, the name Easter is name for the pagan goddess Ishtar.

    Oh! The reason that many ignorant, uneducated “pastors” bray that the KJV was translated from the Textus Receptive (received text). For more information go to http://www.solagroup.org/articles/faqs/faq_0032.html

    The KJV is based on mistranslations of the Greek texts for the NT. The Jewish scriptures, however, have remained virtually the same as the days they were first written. That is because the scribes counted the “jots and tittles” on each line to make certain it is the exact copy of the original. That is why a Torah scroll is so expensive and takes many, many months to complete; that is why the Dead Sea Scrolls are identical to the scrolls that are written and read.

    It is really disgusting that people who claim to worship the same Deity kill each other in the name their Deity.