“Losing My Religion” On Health Care

October 9, 2009

This news story tells us the following (and I hope I’m being metaphorical only with this post title, by the way)…

Senior Catholic bishops are threatening to oppose the health care bill under consideration in Congress if lawmakers don’t make significant reforms regarding federally funded abortions and other issues.

“No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a letter Thursday to members of Congress.

See, the bishops (including Justin Cardinal Rigali of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia) are in a snit because the amendments from Sen. Orrin Hatch to the health care legislation that “sought to explicitly state that the current ban on federal funding for abortions would apply to all aspects of health insurance in the bill and prohibit the government at any level from forcing hospitals, doctors and other health care providers to perform abortions” were thrown out (partly because the wording was idiotic: the “government” can’t “force” ANY medical provider to perform ANY service or procedure…these are just more word games that are part of the process of trying to make abortion illegal under all circumstances and prosecute women seeking this procedure and health care providers who offer it, in an effort to legislatively invalidate Roe v. Wade).

Also, as the story notes, “Federal law allows government funding for abortions only in the cases of rape, incest or danger to a mother’s health,” and I think it’s barbaric to deny abortion services to women facing those circumstances (also, please see the bottom of page two here to read the debunking of the claim that taxpayer funds would be used for abortions).

And for anybody who thinks the Catholic Church would stop at abortions, I should let you know what I heard from the pulpit last Sunday, which was opposition not only to abortion, but in vitro fertilization and stem cell research (welcome to the dark ages).

I’ve tried to find a scientific, impartial source from which I can determine whether or not the number of abortions in this country is going down or not, and I believe it is slightly, but I’m not sure how the data is being manipulated from some of the pro-life sites I’ve visited to learn more about this. However, this tells us that teen birth rates are up in 26 states, with gains primarily in the south and southwest, and decreases in the north.

So even if abortion rates are decreasing in these states, the increasing birth rate tells me that there’s less of an emphasis on sex-ed and access to birth control (I understand the theological reason why the church opposes this, but it utterly flies in the face of the sometimes devastating real-life consequences of acting without education or methods of protection).

Which, I’m sure, is just fine for Cardinal Rigali and his pals. And for all of the reasons I cited above, he and the bishops would oppose the health care bill.

Well, Cardinal, this tells us of a September rally in our archdiocese attended by 400 people (who I’m sure represent many more than that), claiming that “health care for all is a basic human right” and carrying signs, at least one of which read “Insure people, not profits,” before marching to Cigna’s Center City headquarters at 16th and Chestnut streets (and I can recall a time when someone from your church would have actually participated – I’m not aware of any such presence from the story).

And oh yes, CIGNA – those are the people who denied coverage to Natalin Sarkisyan, who, as noted here…

…was a 17-year-old from Glendale, Calif., who had leukemia and needed a liver transplant. Cigna said the procedure was “too risky”, despite the fact that a liver was available and she had a 65 percent chance of survival after six months. As a result of public pressure and publicity, Cigna relented and agreed to pay for the procedure. But it was too late. In December 2007, Ms. Sarkisyan died for lack of the transplant hours after Cigna reversed its decision.

And Will Bunch tells us here of the reception some CIGNA troglodytes gave to Sarkisyan’s mother when she arrived at company headquarters, claiming that CIGNA, in essence, killed her daughter; he tells us that employees “look(ed) down into the atrium lobby from a balcony above, (and) began heckling her, she said, with one of them giving her ‘the finger’.”

Philadelphia, the city that loves you back…

And that kind of made me wonder how much the Catholic Church in Philadelphia has received in donations from CIGNA as well as other corporations, but the problem is that that information isn’t available from the archdiocese’s web site (though LifeSiteNews has no problem providing that information from Planned Parenthood here, including CIGNA – oh, but LifeSiteNews isn’t officially sanctioned by the church…riiiiiight).

This also gives me an excuse to renew my cry for banning of all funds in so-called health savings accounts to be used for abortion (here), and to point out that “good shepherd” Rigali once got “the flock” all in an uproar over the Freedom of Choice Act here, which quite probably will never even pass out of the congressional committee from where it originated.

So Rigali and the bishops apparently refuse to see the consequence of trying to undo health care reform in this country over “values” issues while thousands continue to lose coverage, their savings, their homes, and, in some cases, their lives.

Rigali is lucky that intolerance isn’t considered a pre-existing condition, or he would lose his own coverage.

Sanity In Response To FOCA Agitation

February 20, 2009

spanishorig31As a Roman Catholic who lives in a fairly moderate area of Bucks County, PA (though the county itself definitely trends “culturally conservative,” with new voter registration only recently favoring Democrats over Republicans), I should tell you that I am continually bombarded from the pulpit with entreaties against abortion under any circumstances, which I realize is totally consistent with the policy of the Catholic Church (though not with all parishioners, including yours truly). I believe that, though there is most definitely a spiritual component to this argument that should be respected, there is also a medical component which should be respected as well concerning the health and well being of all parties involved, which I realized is too nuanced apparently for the Church to support.

With all of this in mind, I should also tell you that, a few Sundays ago, we as congregants were implored in an unusually aggressive manner (for our church, anyway) to fill out cards to be sent to our two U.S. Senators (Bob Casey and Arlen Specter) and our U.S. Congressional Representative (Patrick Murphy) urging them not to support the Freedom of Choice Act (two Sundays prior to that one, a priest from the group Priests For Life spoke and conjured all kinds of desperate scenarios in the event that the FOCA was signed into law, with rhetoric such at that used here to be pretty typical of what was said at the homily).

Well, imagine my surprise as I read this story…

The U.S. Catholic Church’s crusade against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has all the hallmarks of a well-oiled lobbying campaign. A national postcard campaign is flooding the White House and congressional offices with messages opposing FOCA, and Catholic bishops have made defeating the abortion rights legislation a top priority. In the most recent effort to stop the bill, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to every member of Congress imploring them to “please oppose FOCA.”

There is only one hitch. Congress isn’t about to pass the Freedom of Choice Act – because no such bill has been introduced in the current Congress.

At a time when the United States is gripped by economic uncertainty and faces serious challenges in hot spots around the globe, some American Catholics are finding it both curious and troubling that their church has launched a major campaign against a piece of legislation that doesn’t exist and wouldn’t have much chance of becoming law even if it did. To many critics, it feels like the legislative equivalent of the dog that didn’t bark.

What’s more, not only has the FOCA not been introduced or voted on, it has never even made it out of the committee where it originated (as the story tells us).

And we also learn the following…

A Freedom of Choice Act was introduced in the 108th and 110th Congresses (from 2003 to ’05 and ’07 to ’09, respectively) by Representative Jerold Nadler, a New York Democrat. It was developed at a time when the future of (Roe v. Wade) was in doubt because it was unclear if George W. Bush would have the opportunity to appoint another justice to the Supreme Court. But FOCA had a hard time gaining traction – even under Democratic control of Congress…

Congressional Democrats have also been less than enthusiastic about the proposal. A spokesman for Nadler says that while he expects the legislation to be reintroduced, “it won’t be anytime soon.” Even if FOCA is reintroduced in the current Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has indicated she has no intention of bringing it up for a vote. And even if she did, there are not enough votes in Congress to pass the bill.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I got “played” here more than just a little bit. And I’m not happy about it (I don’t have a link to a Gallup poll on this at the moment, but I recall that the FOCA didn’t even merit 50 percent approval among those polled – this, to me, has all the makings of another “non-controversy” concocted by those clueless “values voters,” like the supposed revival of the Fairness Doctrine).

You know, I would really like to hear what the Church has to say about the “big picture” stuff going on in this country; I realize there’s only so much it can do about our collapsing economy and middle class, to say nothing of health coverage and the climate crisis, but even calling for prayerful intervention could only help, to say nothing of actual advocacy.

But I suppose instances such as this will remain typical of the blinkered thinking of the institution as a whole and many of its supporters, to the point where Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, is pilloried because he doesn’t march in total lockstep with “the faithful” (and Casey, by the way, most definitely opposes the FOCA; I know, because I asked him about it myself).

Update: And by the way, thanks to one of my “field correspondents” for the following (just to show how far anyone can go with extremism)…


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