When the battle has reached its critical stage, and you are trying to find the way to victory against all odds, that’s when you need your friends and allies to stand by you. It’s a time when those bonds of loyalty are tested.
And so we come to the case of the Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals and other health care entities, and lobbies on their behalf. Given the dire financial status of many Catholic health care organizations, the CHA has a keen interest in the outcome of the debate on health care reform.
It’s important to note that the CHA considers itself to be more than just a lobbying group. It states in its mission statement that its purpose is “to support and strengthen the Catholic health ministry in the United States”, and elsewhere asserts that “Catholic health care organizations treasure their relationship with the Catholic Church and strive to protect their continuing ability to serve the health care needs of the United States while remaining steadfast to Catholic values.”
So, one would also think that the CHA had a primary interest in standing in solidarity with the Catholic Church, which is to say with our bishops. And an interest in protecting human life. And an interest in defending the right to conscience. One would think that these concerns would out-weigh economic interest.
One would be wrong.
After months of ambiguity, the CHA came out of the shadows the other day and endorsed the Senate health care bill. That’s right, the same bill that would establish abortion as just another kind of health care, as if it were the same thing as bunion surgery. The same bill that would: provide federal money to health insurance plans that cover elective abortions; impose a mandatory payment on those who are covered by those plans, specifically to pay for abortions; and fail to include adequate conscience protection for religious institutions.
In endorsing this evil bill, the head of the CHA made several statements that are astonishing in their naivete and moral obtuseness. First, she claimed that the question of whether there would be federal funding for abortion was a “technical issue”. Excuse me? Whether federal funds would directly or indirectly pay for the destruction of tens of thousands of lives each year is not a “technical issue” — it is a moral issue of profound significance. It’s hard to believe that the head of CHA doesn’t see this. Of course, this is the same person who gave an extended interview about health care reform recently and somehow managed never to mention abortion or conscience protection.
Second, she expressed confidence that Congress would eventually address and correct these flaws. I’m sorry, but nobody with any realistic understanding of politics believes that this Congress and President will permit, much less support, a stand-alone pro-life bill that would embody true protections for the unborn and for religious organizations. It’s just delusional to believe that.
In the final analysis, any bill that endorses abortion as a routine kind of medical procedure, and that forces us to pay for them, is an evil bill that cannot be tolerated, but must be opposed with all our strength. The Bishops of the United States, speaking both collectively and individually, have made this clear. The desire for health care reform that would truly be just and humane is a good thing. But not at the expense of destroying human lives and endangering the integrity of our institutions.
The CHA, unfortunately, has decided to collaborate with those who are inimically opposed to the dignity of human life, and to provide political cover for those who wish to vote for this bill. The CHA has betrayed the Church at an hour when She needs all the support that She can get.
They have failed the test.