Over the years, few public policy advocates have been more consistently dishonest and/or disingenuous than the pro-aborts from Catholics for Choice (formerly known as Catholics for Free Choice). From misrepresenting the Catholic position on abortion to giving pro-abortion Catholic politicians cover, CFC has used every trick in the book. The latest example appears in the “On Faith” column of the Washington Post, from head honcho Jon O’Brien, writing about the health care reform debate:
At the outset, a truce of sorts was declared. Pro-choice and anti-choice advocates had a tacit agreement that they would not use the debate over health care reform to further their own agendas. The agreement seemed to be holding until the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) decided it was not happy with the status quo and pressured Congress to further restrict access to abortion. Then, as the saying goes, all hell broke loose.
He’s right about the truce, but it was actually broken when pro-abortion members of the House, led by Nancy Pelosi, inserted language in the 2000+ page bill that created a hole you could drive a truck through in the status quo (i.e., the Hyde Amendment). It was only after that the pro-life forces, including but hardly exclusively the Catholic bishops, went to work.
Hours before the House of Representatives was scheduled to hold a final vote on a health care bill that, according to the Democratic leadership, would not to include any last minute amendments, the USCCB’s lobbyists swooped in and said they would not support any bill that did impose further restrictions on federal funding for abortion.
Sounds like the tag line for a cheesy horror movie: “When Catholic Lobbyists Swoop!”
The Democratic leadership, of course, wanted to prevent amendments precisely so they could avoid having their plan to fund abortion through the medium of a federal insurance exchange challenged by the peons. They could, of course, have told the USCCB’s people to pound salt (after all, they essentially told the American electorate that when they passed the bill). They couldn’t, not because the Catholic bishops have some kind of nefarious power, but because members of their own caucus, led by Bart Stupak, wouldn’t let them.
Using a Catholic Democrat from Michigan, Representative Bart Stupak, to advance their cause,
They no doubt had to threaten him with the rack to get him to play the role of their stooge.
the bishops forced an anti-choice amendment to be added to the final bill.
They must have similarly threatened the other 63 Democrats who voted for the amendment with thumbscrews if they didn’t do their Papist bidding, since, as we all know, the bishops don’t get a vote in the House, and thus aren’t able to “force” anything.
Rather than politely agreeing to disagree with the bishops and whipping members of the Democratic caucus to support the (pro-choice) party platform, the Democratic leadership caved and allowed an amendment that may severely impact the ability of many millions of women to purchase insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure.
Golly, Pelosi and company allowed members of their caucus to vote their conscience. What a bizarre thing to do!
As the day’s negotiations stretched into the evening, we began to learn the full extent of the bishops’ attempts to influence the debate. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick phoned Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from Rome to urge the inclusion of the Stupak anti-choice language. Another legislator was reportedly contacted by as many as three bishops. According to the Associated Press, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley previously raised the matter with President Barack Obama while standing near the altar at Senator Edward Kennedy’s funeral Mass in September. Before the vote and since, the bishops have sent letters to Congress and instructed parishes to drum up opposition to coverage for abortion. Their lobbyists were even allowed in closed-door sessions with the House Leadership on the day of the final House floor vote. In these meetings and conversations, the USCCB was threatening to bring the whole bill down unless their demands were met.
The outrages just keep piling up. Cardinal McCarrick “phoned” Pelosi! Three bishops “contacted” some other representative!! Cardinal O’Malley “raised the matter” with the president!!! The bishops “sent letters” to Congress!!!! The “instructed” parishes under their authority!!!!! I’ll tell ya, there ain’t nothin’ the papists won’t do to get their way!!!!!!
As for the “closed door meeting,” and the “threats” that were supposedly conveyed there, two responses: 1) is there any Democratic Party interest group that hasn’t gotten a closed door meeting with the leadership, and extracted all the goodies they possibly could as the price of the support (the labor unions being the latest example)? And 2) how exactly was the USCCB supposed to “bring the whole bill down”? Were they going to invade the House floor, swinging croziers and staging a coup? Were they going to unleash the Inquisition on any recalcitrant Dems? Were they going to organize a crusade and order Orlando Bloom to bring them Nancy Pelosi’s head on a pike? All the leadership had to do to face down any “threats” was say “no.” They made a political calculation that doing so would cost them more with Catholic voters than allowing the vote (the result of which, by the way, was not a foregone conclusion). Get over it.
In the Senate, the bishops used a Methodist Senator from Nebraska, Ben Nelson. Originally, Senator Nelson maintained that the abortion language in the health-care bill was not a make-or-break factor in his vote. However, after pressure from the bishops, he hardened his stance on the abortion language, stating that he would not vote for a health-care bill unless the restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions were tightened. Senator Nelson even held up the submission of his amendment so that the bishops would have extra time to review its language before he brought it to the floor. Has the U.S. become a theocratic state?
I’m sure the Methodist bishops, being mostly pro-abortion, will have something to say about having their guy poached by the Romans. But here’s the real point: Nelson’s amendment, which could have instead been offered by most Republicans without hesitation, and was only allowed a vote by Harry Reid to assuage Nelson’s constituents, lost 54-45, which a number of Republicans voting against it. Nelson then dropped his objections to the bill, giving it the precious 60th vote for cloture and in the process giving up his pro-life principles in return for the “Cornhusker Kickback.” The bishops may have “reviewed” the language of his amendment, but the didn’t get what they wanted when the full Senate voted. So much for papist theocracy.
What this is really about is that O’Brien can’t stand the idea that pro-life advocates such as the Catholic bishops get the time of day in the Congress of the United States, First Amendment be damned. In the world of Catholics for Choice, where even the Pope doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to the Catholic position on abortion and pro-abortion ideology brooks no dissent, there is no place for congresscritters actually listening to their pro-life constituents. Instead, all attention and votes must be given to Moloch’s priesthood. That way, if any way, lies theocracy.