Archive for the ‘Health Care Reform’ Category

Answering Planned Parenthood

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Bills are pending before Congress to cut federal funding through for elective abortions (both through Medicaid and the new health care reform law), and for those organizations that perform abortions. The most prominent organization that will be affected by this effort is the one I like to call the “Temple of Moloch”, for its fanatical devotion to the modern sacrifice of children — Planned Parenthood, which single-handedly aborts over 300,000 children a year.

Planned Parenthood and their allies, of course, are not taking this lying down, and has enlisted their media friends to shore up public support. Over the weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed piece that summarized the abortion advocates’ talking points — if these bills are passed, the women who now go to Planned Parenthood clinics and receive care like cancer screenings will be left with no health care at all.

I was contacted by a friend, who was trying to formulate a compelling, practical and loving response to this argument. To me, the answer is two-fold. First, we should trust women to be smart and resourceful enough to make sensible decisions about their health care. Second, we need better public health policies to address the serious health issues facing urban low-income people.

The Times’ and Planned Parenthood’s argument fundamentally denies the competence of women. It is based on the false assumption that women have no alternatives to Planned Parenthood for their health care. That’s absurd — what, women aren’t smart enough to Google “Gynecologists” or “General Practitioners” in their area? That’s no way to sustain an argument, much less a coherent set of public policies.

This debate over abortion funding actually gives us an opportunity to talk about a serious public health issue that is of very grave concern to the Church, and that needs a serious public policy response. In many urban areas where Planned Parenthood clinics are located, the reality is that there are not enough health professionals to serve low-income people. The better public policy response to that is not to keep throwing money to organizations that do abortions, hand out contraceptives, and do some other health care services on the side. Instead, we need to take pragmatic steps to address the actual problem of medically under-served populations and areas. Steps like giving doctors incentives to be more accessible to Medicaid patients (e.g., realistic reimbursement rates), or to taking the money saved by these bills and enhance direct public health services (e.g., free cancer screenings), or using it to train professionals like Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners from the community who can give health care at lower cost than doctors. We will also have to change laws so that poor immigrants can qualify for Medicaid and other government health insurance programs. Given the chronic health problems of poor people, these would be much more sensible way to spend public money than to continue to subsidize abortionists.

Also, we have to help the private sector to respond. Many, many urban hospitals and medical schools are already doing outreach to underserved populations (in both urban and rural areas). There are surely ways to encourage more of that through sensible public programs (e.g., grants and other incentives). For example, some hospitals in New York City have walk-in clinics in convenient locations that are accessible to low-income people, and, because they accept Medicaid, CHIP, etc. they can provide good health care to underserved areas. We need more of these clinics.

In fact, one way to respond is to imitate Planned Parenthood’s own business model (without the abortions). Surely there are altruistic medical people (and maybe some new religious communities?) who would be willing to start up non-profit organizations to provide good basic health care to poor people in the inner city, perhaps with help from start-up grants from the government, and reasonable reimbursement rates from government health insurance programs.

The reality is that Planned Parenthood is able to succeed in winning public approval because there really is a dire public health problem in urban areas, and the private sector and the government are not adequately responding right now. It’s great to de-fund abortionists, but we still need to address the underlying problem.

Catholic social teaching actually has the right answers to the underlying problem — a combination of private and public sector responses, building up community and intermediary organizations, and helping individuals to become part of the solution. And of course, Catholic teaching also has the ultimate answer to the Planned Parenthoods of the world — respect life, don’t destroy it, and work to build a culture of life and civilization of love.

Varia

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Archbishop Dolan, in his role as President of the US Bishops, has written to Congress to lay out the Bishops’ legislative concerns.
  • Must-read of the week — Kathryn Jean Lopez reflects on the reaction to the Tuscon shootings, and why we still countenance violence against the most innocent among us.  Here’s how she closes: “Abortion is a violence we should open our eyes to see and stop rather than keeping quiet and accepting it. It’s one that a civil society can work to stop. Peacefully, with love and support.”
  • Excellent rebuttal of the “lazy slander” against pro-lifers, that we only care about babies before they’re born, and do nothing to help mothers afterwards.
  • Two fine opinion pieces today about NYC’s tragically high abortion rate:  one by former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin in the NY Post and another by Bill McGurn in the Wall St. Journal.
  • Well, the House GOP leaders have made their statement by voting to repeal the health care law.  Now it’s time to make a difference by defunding abortion.
  • In a further step along the way to the compete commodification of human life, rich clueless celebrities who buy the services of surrogate mothers are now denying their humanity, calling them “gestational carriers”.
  • Our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Supreme Court have declined to hear the Washington DC same-sex “marriage” case — you know, the one where “We the People” were trying to get the issue on the ballot so that democracy could have a say on the law, but a panel of bureaucrats decided that the “We the People” should go into the corner and be quiet?
  • Sargent Shriver, perhaps the last of the old-line Catholic, pro-life Democrats, has passed into eternal life.  One of the good guys.  Rest in peace.
  • Eduardo Verastegui — the unfairly-handsome actor from the pro-life movie “Bella” — is going to finance the building of the largest pro-life women’s clinic in the United States, in Los Angeles.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Varia

    Sunday, January 16th, 2011

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Abby Johnson, the former worker at the Temple of Moloch, er, I mean Planned Parenthood, who converted to pro-life after participating in an abortion, has had her book “Unplanned” published.  Read this interview with her.  Here’s the first chapter of her book.
  • Please read Msgr. Charles Pope’s reflection on the events of the last weekend from a pastor’s perspective, and the need for a conversion of heart — beginning with me — to a greater respect for each individual human life.
  • The Times did a nice profile of the federal judge who was murdered in Arizona on Saturday.  They missed the key facts — he was a devout Catholic, a Knight of Columbus, and had just come from Mass:  see here and here.
  • A couple in Australia aborts twin boys, because they wanted a girl by IVF.  Nobody asked the boys what they wanted.
  • Meanwhile, scientists tell us that twins first interact with each other in the womb.
  • The well-known “Bodies” exhibits are perhaps the most prominent examples, but this — the use of a deceased child’s skull as the medium for “art” — is another example of the disregard for human life being exemplified by a disregard for the dignity of human remains.  Catechism 2300 is clear on this: “The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection.”
  • According to our State Department, when it comes to a passport application we no longer have mothers and fathers, just “Parent One” and “Parent Two”.  But what if there was a surrogate involved — shouldn’t there be a line on the application for “Parent Three” or more?  And what if there’s polygamy involved?
  • The Guttmacher Institute puts out statistics, showing that the national abortion rate has gone up slightly, largely due to an increase in chemical abortions. Here’s the analysis from Americans United for Life, which attributes it to the Temple of Moloch, er, I mean Planned Parenthood’s changing business model.
  • All the more reason to support legislation to cut off abortionists from public money.
  • A mass grave is found in Austria, a grim reminder of the Nazi anti-disability euthanasia campaign.  We all pledge, “Never again”, but the same campaign is taking place now, as disabled babies are killed in the womb in the name of “compassion”.  Will we never learn?
  • Varia

    Monday, January 10th, 2011

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • An overview of the national campaign to shut down pregnancy support centers.  For more information on what’s happening here in New York City with the New York City Council bill that targets pregnancy centers, see here.
  • Ross Douthat, in the Times, reflects on the paradox in American culture when it comes to the unborn child.  His closing line says it all: “This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.”
  • Here’s the Times’ formula for marriage — it’s all about me, how you make me feel, how much “self-expansion” I find in our relationship (and they’re not talking about my waistline!).  You can even take a quiz to see how selfish, er, I mean “self-expansive” your attitude towards your marriage is.  Me + me + me + me + me = Unhappiness + Divorce.
  • The impending GOP effort to repeal the health care law piecemeal will likely include a new attempt at banning abortion funding.
  • A profile of the new pro-life members of Congress.  80 of the 87 new GOP House members are pro-life.  And here’s an interview with Chris Smith, pro-life hero in Congress.
  • Strong anti-porn article in the New York Daily News.
  • More proof, this time from Spain, that the availability and use of contraception does not reduce abortion, since abortion is being used as the contraceptive of last resort.
  • Justice Scalia repeats his position that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion.  The Justice is certainly not a Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Ruler, but he is a dedicated legal positivist, and believes that if legislatures pass laws authorizing the killing of human beings, that’s perfectly fine with the Constitution — despite its guarantee of equal protection of law to all persons.
  • In announcing his “transformational plan for a new New York”, our Governor made sure to find space for a call to pass the radical Reproductive Health Act and to legalize same-sex “marriage”.  Start contacting your legislators.
  • Those enlightened, tolerant souls over at Apple Corp continue to rebuff the Manhattan Declaration (the interfaith statement of religious commitment to life, marriage, and religious liberty) by rejecting their app for the iPhone.  Apple, which is happy to receive the money of Christians for their gadgets, calls the Manhattan Declaration “objectionable and potentially harmful to others” because of its opposition to same-sex “marriage”.  If you haven’t signed the Declaration yet, please consider doing so, and please sign their petition to Apple.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Varia

    Friday, November 19th, 2010

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Here’s yet another way that the health care law will sneak abortion in through the back door — by defining contraceptives as “preventive care”, including those with an abortifacient effect.
  • And now supporters of the health care law are admitting that “death panels” are in the future for us too, thanks to the health care law.
  • Interesting reflection on how pro-lifers should fit into the debate on repealing or repairing the health care law.
  • Greg Pfundstein gives you a flavor of what the City Council hearing on the New York City Council’s awful crisis pregnancy center bill was like.  Check out my blog post below for my take on the travesty.
  • Yet another review of the extensive scholarly literature establishing a variety of negative effects of abortion on women.  Response from the regular media:
  • Some within the GOP are urging the new House leaders to avoid social issues.   They love it when pro-lifers vote for them, but after the election they just want us to do to the back of the bus again.
  • If anyone tries to tell you that passing pro-life laws doesn’t have an effect on abortion, show them this report, in which a notorious late-term abortionist admits that he’s moving his killing field to a new state because of the strict regulations in Nebraska.
  • And the next time abortion rights advocates talk about how we’re just talking about religious dogma and not science, remind them of the public statement of the head of the Temple of Moloch, er, I mean Planned Parenthood that “We are not going to try to use science or evidence — the fact of the matter is, this is, this is opinion. We all have our own opinions as far as when human life begins.”
  • As always, in the eyes of the Times, the only real Catholics are dissidents and schismatics, as witnessed by their recent gushing account of the Protestant Reformation, er, I mean the decision of a few sad deluded Belgians to set up their own “ecclesia”.  For a biting critique of the nonsensical way that the Times covered this non-story, see here.
  • Yesterday was the anniversary of the day when our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court re-defined marriage to mean something that it never has, and never could, mean.  Power corrupts.
  • More madness in Massachusetts — a new policy in Provincetown that would permit condom distribution to first graders, without parental knowledge or consent.
  • This is extremely cool, and not just because he’s one of my patron saints — a photo of the handwriting of St. Thomas Aquinas.  With handwriting like that, now we know why he’s a Doctor of the Church.
  • Here’s a stunner — a positive presentation of a couple’s commitment to pre-marital abstinence, in the Washington Post, no less.
  • Beautiful story of how a family dealt with a fatal birth defect in their unborn child.
  • Varia

    Friday, November 5th, 2010

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Pro-life leaders reflect on the outlook for the new Congress.  The top priority is the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
  • A pretty good overview by George Marlin on Catholics and the midterm elections.  See also this interesting statistical study of the trends over the last decade.
  • Amidst the (justified) cheering in this post-election press release from National Right to Life is an important poll result that needs to be shown to every pro-life candidate:  voters who considered abortion to have affected their vote (30%!) broke 22% to 8% pro-life — a 14% advantage for a pro-life candidate.  Not only is it the right position, but it is a winning position.
  • You also need to hear what the other side is saying — they know they lost big in the House.  NARAL says that 248 members of the new House are “anti-choice”, only 154 are “pro-choice”, and 33 are “mixed”, a gain of 44 pro-life votes.  They also realize that our top priority will be the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.  (Sorry for the link to one of Moloch’s favorite organizations — sprinkle holy water on your monitor after you’ve looked at the article).
  • Yet another example of how the health care law can lead to public funding for abortion on demand — through the decisions of state officials implementing the law.  It may also lead to a nation-wide requirement that insurance companies pay for contraceptives (including the ones like IUD’s that cause early abortions).
  • The Secretary of State vows to fight against sex slavery and human trafficking.  This scourge against the human person needs to be eradicated completely.  Good for her.
  • An encouraging profile of the new, more pro-life “Generation Y”.  The trend is for life.
  • This is how bad the threat to religious liberty has become in the UK — a couple is barred from being foster parents because of their belief that homosexual behavior is wrong.  Even bishops of the Church of England are critical of this decision.  Coming soon to the US, no doubt.
  • Check out this great animated video of conception to birth.   Should be required viewing in every school.
  • 40 Days for Life has now concluded.  They know of at least 541 babies saved by the grace of God.  Here’s the story of one of them.
  • A very disturbing story about fertility colonialism — where rich Westerners go to poor countries to use their women as surrogates.
  • A disappointing story — a leak of contents from President Bush’s memoirs reveals that he personally approved the torturing of prisoners by waterboarding.  If done by a private party, that would be a crime.
  • Ethical investors, including Christian Brothers Investment, strike back at the cable industry’s distribution of porn.
  • New Bill to Stop Federal Funding for Abortion

    Saturday, August 21st, 2010

    In the aftermath of the enactment of the health care reform law, we have been told over and over by the Administration and its allies that the bill will not provide for public funding for abortion, and that the President’s executive order ensures that.

    Nobody who is familiar with the bill actually believes this.  Both pro-lifers and pro-abortion advocates know full well that they law will require federal funds to go to insurance plans that cover abortions, direct funding of abortions though such means as “community health centers”, and through the rulings of courts on the meaning of terms in the law like “family planning” and “preventive care”.  For a detailed explanation, see this fact sheet from the U.S. Bishops’ General Counsel.

    In response to the threats to human life contained in the bill, pro-life members of Congress — led by the stalwart Chris Smith of New Jersey — have introduced legislation that would prevent any federal funding of abortion under the new law, and would also provide adequate conscience protection to those institutions and individuals who do not want to cooperate in abortion.  The bill is called, appropriately, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, and it would prevent any payments for abortion from any federal program.

    Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston/Houston, and Chairman of the Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee, has now written a letter to all members of Congress, calling on them to co-sponsor this bill.  The Cardinal’s letter provides an excellent summary of the bill and the reasons it is necessary, so I reproduce the entire text here.  It’s long, but well worth the read:

    Dear Representative:

    The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 5939) was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) at the end of July, and already has 166 co-sponsors including 20 Democratic members. I am writing to urge you to support and co-sponsor this important legislation if you have not yet done so.
    H.R. 5939 will write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use taxpayers’ money to support and promote elective abortion. Even public officials who take a “pro-choice” stand on abortion, and courts that have insisted on the validity of a constitutional “right” to abortion, have agreed that the government can validly use its funding power to encourage childbirth over abortion.

    So secure is this agreement, in fact, that some in the past have simply assumed that it is already fully implemented at all levels of the federal government. For example, some wrongly argued during the recent debate on health care reform that there was no need for restrictions on abortion funding in the new health legislation, because this matter had already been settled by the Hyde amendment. However, the Hyde amendment is only a rider to the annual Labor/HHS appropriations bill; and while it has been maintained essentially intact by Congress over the last 35 years, it only governs funds appropriated under that particular act.

    In reality, federal funds are prevented now from funding abortion by riders to various annual appropriations bills as well as by provisions incorporated into specific authorizing legislation for the Department of Defense, Children’s Health Insurance Program, foreign assistance, and so on. On various occasions a gap or loophole has been discovered that does not seem to be addressed by this patchwork of provisions – as when unelected officials in past years were construing the Indian Health Service or the Medicare trust fund to allow funding of elective abortions, and Congress had to act to correct this grave situation. While Congress’s policy has been remarkably consistent for decades, implementation of that policy in practice has been piecemeal and sometimes sadly inadequate.

    The absence of a government-wide law against federal funding of abortion has led most recently to the passage of major health care reform legislation that contains at least three different policies on federal funding of abortion – none of which is consistent with the Hyde amendment (now Sec. 508 of the Labor/HHS appropriations bill for the current fiscal year) or with similar longstanding provisions that govern all other health programs. For example, one provision of the final Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act technically complies with the first sentence of Hyde (against direct and traceable funding of abortion procedures themselves), but violates Hyde’s second sentence (against funding health plans that cover abortions) – and then violates the spirit of the entire amendment, by directly forcing conscientiously opposed citizens in many plans to fund other people’s abortions through their health premiums (sec. 1303). Another provision appropriates its own new funds outside the bounds of the Hyde amendment and allows those funds to be used for abortions or not, depending on a decision by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (sec. 1101). Yet another provision leaves out any reference to Hyde, and allows its new funding for community health centers to be governed by the underlying mandates in the authorizing legislation for these centers – mandates that in other health programs have been interpreted by the federal courts to require federal funding of abortion (Sec. 10503). These disparate policies are not compatible with the Hyde amendment, or even with one another. This is one reason why passage of a bill like H.R. 5939 is overdue.

    The Catholic bishops of the United States strongly support legislation to correct these and other abortion-related problems in health care reform (H.R. 5111/S. 3723). But by implementing the policy of the Hyde amendment throughout the federal government once and for all, H.R. 5939 would prevent such problems and confusions in future legislation as well. Federal health legislation could be debated and supported in terms of its ability to promote the goal of universal health care, instead of being mired in debates about one lethal procedure that most Americans know is not truly “health care” at all. Annual appropriations bills could be discussed in terms of how their funding priorities best serve the common good, instead of being endangered because ideologues favoring abortion want to use them to reverse or weaken longstanding federal policy on abortion funding.

    H.R. 5939 would also codify the Hyde/Weldon amendment that has been part of the section containing the Hyde amendment in annual Labor/HHS appropriations bills since 2004. Hyde/Weldon has ensured that federal agencies, and state and local governments receiving federal funds, do not discriminate against health care providers because they do not perform or provide abortions. It is long overdue for this policy, as well, to be given a more secure legislative status. No hospital, doctor or nurse should be forced to stop providing much-needed legitimate health care because they cannot in conscience participate in destroying a developing human life.

    In short, I urge you to co-sponsor the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and help ensure its enactment.

    Sadly, New York’s Congressional delegation is probably the most anti-life collection in the entire nation (with two exceptions — Rep. Peter King of Long Island and Rep. Christopher Lee of upstate).

    Nevertheless, I would strongly encourage everyone to write to their representatives, and urge them to support the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”.  The easiest way to do this would be to go to the NCHLA website (http://www.nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=284) and send an email to your representative.

    Why We Must Be Vigilant

    Thursday, July 15th, 2010

    For months during the health care reform debate, the US Bishops, and other pro-life groups, adamantly insisted that the proposed health care reform bills were dangerous because they would use public funds to pay for elective abortions.  The Obama Administration and leaders of Congress consistently responded that their bills would not do any such thing.   In fact, the Administration even accused pro-lifers — including the Catholic bishops — of “bearing false witness” when they claimed that the bill would, in fact, pay for elective abortions with public money.

    Catholics, including some religious sisters and the Catholic Health Association bought what the Administration was selling, and argued that the health care bill was actually pro-life.  Pro-life Democrats were induced, at the last minute, to vote for the bill thanks to such promises, and the President even signed an executive order that supposedly guaranteed that no elective abortions would be paid for under the bill.  Pro-lifers objected, but were told, essentially, that we were either lying or that we didn’t understand the bill.

    Over the past few days, it has become public knowledge that an obscure provision in the health care reform bill (it involves setting up state-by-state “high risk pools”) is being used to pay for elective abortions in at least two states, and potentially in many more.  These programs were approved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and at least one of them was already putting out contracts and getting ready to provide services.

    Once the publicity started, the Administration began to backtrack, and now promises that they will issue regulations that will ensure that no federal funding will go to elective abortions.

    This demonstrates yet again why we must be very, very vigilant when it comes to this Administration’s policies that affect abortion.  It is also clear that legislation must be passed that will forever settle the matter, and ban any federal funding for elective abortions.

    Never forget that this Administration, and the people in major policy-making positions, are utterly committed to the legal regime that permits the destruction of innocent human life in the womb for any reason whatsoever.  They will not deviate from their agenda of promoting abortion as a method of “reproductive choice”.   The sad reality is that the Obama Administration, and the President himself, are not moderate on abortion — they are extremist supporters of the “right” to kill unborn children.

    Elections have consequences, and so does the passage of well-intentioned but gravely flawed legislation.

    What Went Wrong and What Do We Do About It?

    Thursday, March 25th, 2010

    In the aftermath of the health care reform bill becoming law, there has been a lot of introspection on the part of pro-lifers and within the Church.  Many people have wondered how we could lose this battle, given that public opinion was very much on our side.  Others have questioned whether we as a Church were effective in getting our message out to our faithful, and in mobilizing them for action.

    I’m not a big fan of “friendly fire”, and I don’t want anything here to be construed as criticism of anyone in particular.  Nor do I want to get hung up on second-guessing tactical decisions.  But I think it would be helpful to take a look at some of the reasons that our message just wasn’t as effective as we would have liked.  Here are some of the factors that I would identify:

  • Issue fatigue — After over a year of this debate, I think a lot of people were just flat-out fed up with it and just wanted it to be over.  “Geez, Louise,” they’d say, “I’m so sick of this issue.  How many more email action alerts and bulletin inserts am I going to get on this? When will it end?”
  • Complexity — The health care reform issue is so complicated that many people gave up trying to understand it.  The abortion funding issue was not easy to explain — and that was nowhere near as complex as the procedural shenanigans or the economic impact arguments.  To be honest, I’m still not sure how, or when, this law will have an impact on me and my family.
  • Information overload — Too much information leads people to shut down, and they can’t make decisions.  There was just way, way, way too much information out there about health care reform, and people couldn’t process it.
  • Expert confusion — With so many people talking, it’s hard to figure out who knows what they’re talking about (and most of them don’t, but that doesn’t stop them).
  • Hopeless Legislators — New York probably has the most consistently anti-life Congressional delegation in America.  I recently searched the voting records of all of our representatives, and the result is very depressing.  Before this, they had cast 1,336 cumulative votes on life issues — and they have voted pro-life only 35 times.  That’s less than 3% of the time.  Many people know this and wonder, “why bother?”
  • Controversial — Most people avoid conflict, and conflict was inevitable as soon as you discussed this issue.  No matter what position the Church took, there were lots of people who didn’t like it, for all sorts of reasons, and we were bound to offend somebody.  It’s easy to understand why so many chose to keep that conflict out of their lives.
  • Disgust with politics — This process was so dirty that many people just averted their eyes from the mess.  The nasty partisanship from all sides added to this sense of revulsion.
  • Disinformation — On a related note, the amount of disinformation was extraordinary in this debate — more than I’ve seen in any issue in decades.  The fog machine was on full blast, and it confused a lot of people.
  • Disinterest — This is hard for me to comprehend, since I’m a political junkie — Election Night is my Super Bowl.  But the fact is that many, many good people are just not interested in politics.  It’s just not their thing, and they’d rather concentrate on the good work they’re doing in other areas.  Of course, there are also many people who just don’t care, and would rather discuss who’s going to advance to the next round on American Idol.
  • Most of these reasons relate to attitudes, and point us to the way we can improve our efforts.  With all the attention being paid to legislation, it’s easy to forget that the primary field of this struggle is spiritual, and is being waged in people’s hearts and souls.

    The great majority of people in general, and Catholics in particular, are good, kind-hearted people who want to do the right thing.  Our task is to help more and more people understand that the cause of human life is the perfect opportunity for them to act on their innate good will. We need to redouble our efforts to convert hearts, to convince people of the compassion and love that underlies the pro-life position, and to encourage them to have the moral courage necessary to take this stand.

    Sound familiar? It’s basically Christianity 101, a call to discipleship, and to love one another as Jesus loved us.  Let’s get to work.

    The Day After

    Monday, March 22nd, 2010

    Congress has now passed the health reform bill.  In the next few days, the President will sign the Senate bill into law.

    So where do we go from here, from a legal perspective?

    Once signed, the law will certainly be challenged on constitutional grounds, both by state attorneys general and by private citizens.  The grounds for the challenge will involve an attack on the so-called “individual mandate” — the provision that will require every person to have some kind of health insurance.  This argument could be based on two grounds:  that Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause to regulate economic activity does not authorize it to force people to engage in economic activity (i.e., to buy an insurance contract), and that the mandate violates the Tenth Amendment, which reserve rights to the people or the states unless they are specifically granted to Congress in the Constitution.

    It’s doubtful that this litigation will be successful, since no major piece of social legislation has been ruled unconstitutional based on the Commerce Clause since the 1930′s, and the Supreme Court has rarely invalidated statutes based on the Tenth Amendment.

    The other major legal question is the significance of the last minute deal for an executive order from the President that claimed to apply the Hyde Amendment (the provision of law that restricts federal funding for abortion) to the health care bill.

    Sadly, this executive order is a nullity, and will certainly be set aside by the courts, if the President even bothers to try to implement it.

    The separation of powers doctrine, which is at the heart of our Constitution, dictates that Congress makes laws and disburses money, the President enforces these laws, and the courts interpret them.  The courts have consistently ruled that the President cannot unilaterally amend or revoke laws that Congress has enacted, he cannot refuse to spend money that Congress has ordered to be spent, and he cannot interpret statutes in a way that is inconsistent with court rulings.  The President is authorized to enact regulations to implement laws, but only if he is delegated that authority by Congress, and his regulations cannot be inconsistent with the original statute or with court rulings.

    The executive order promised by the President purports to apply the Hyde Amendment to the health care bill.  But  the bill does not contain the Hyde Amendment, or any language like the Hyde Amendment.  In fact, the Senate and the House both specifically rejected including such language in the bill.  The President lacks the authority to include the Hyde Amendment on his own initiative — he cannot amend the plain meaning of a statute to make it mean something that Congress did not enact.

    In addition, the executive order runs afoul of all the previous court rulings on federal health care statutes (e.g., Medicaid).  In every case decided, the courts have ruled that these health care bills are required to cover and pay for elective abortions, unless Congress specifically forbids such funding.  That is why it is necessary to have the Hyde Amendment added to spending bills every year, and that is why it was needed in this bill.  The President lacks the authority to define a statute in a way that is inconsistent with these court rulings.  Again, he cannot enact the Hyde Amendment on his own.

    So, if neither the courts nor the executive order is the answer, where does that leave us, on the day after?

    The only way to change the law is to do it through the legislative process.  And that brings us back to elections and culture.  As we saw on Sunday night, that means that we need more authentic pro-life legislators.   And we can’t do that until the conscience of our culture — of individuals, of voters — is awakened to the gross injustice of abortion.  Every time abortion is discussed as a major political or social issue, hearts are changed and people become more pro-life in their sentiments.   Our task is to energize people into a commitment for real social justice that is dedicated to fully protecting the unborn, and to electing representatives who will ensure that our civil laws reflect and embody the fundamental moral law.  Nothing short of that will ever be acceptable.

    And so, on the day after, we bind our wounds, recommit ourselves to the crusade, and move on to the next struggle.