Time's Sullivan Laments That Catholic Bishops Aren't Onboard ObamaCare Push

October 6th, 2009 4:24 PM

Time magazine senior editor and Harvard Divinity School alumna Amy Sullivan took to passive-aggressively chastising the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for "moving the goalposts" on support for ObamaCare in a blog post at the magazine's Swampland blog today:

Last week the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to U.S. Senators about current health reform legislation. The USCCB has supported the goal of universal health coverage for decades, but the letter made clear that they do not yet support the Senate Finance Committee's bill because of concerns about affordability, coverage for immigrants, and financing for abortion. I'd like to focus on that last point, because I think it's here that the bishops may be moving the goalposts on what they can and cannot accept.

Sullivan lamented that the bishops are not accepting the word of the Obama administration as the gospel truth when it comes to abortion:

Both Obama and Kathleen Sebelius have publicly vowed to support language explicitly preventing federal funds from being used to directly fund abortions--a continuation of current federal law (with exceptions for Medicaid-funded abortions in the cases of rape or incest).

It seems Sullivan is peeved that the bishops are as gentle as doves but wise as serpents when it comes to the promises of ravenous wolves politicians on life issues:

But the bishops go further than that, calling for a health reform plan that "prevent[s] federal funds from being used for abortions or to help purchase benefits packages that include abortions." [italics in original]

Of course, Sullivan failed to mention that Obama and Sebelius have practically received NARAL Pro-Choice America's seal of approval, and you may recall the president promised the pro-choice lobby to make a priority of passing the Freedom of Choice Act during the 2008 presidential primary campaign. What's more, Sullivan failed to inform readers that it was Democratic senators in the Finance Committee that have scuttled pro-life amendments that may have assauged the moral concerns of the bishops:

(RTTNews) - The Senate Finance Committee voted 13-10 Wednesday against an amendment from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to strengthen anti-abortion provisions in the health care reform bill that the committee is currently drafting.

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) joined Democrats in voting against the amendment, while Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) sided with Republicans in voting for it.

Hatch's amendment would have included language that would place a permanent ban on federal funding for abortions, except in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Under current law, the bans need to be renewed every year or federal funding for abortion is allowed for cases no longer banned.


Additionally, in another 13-10 vote, the committee also rejected Hatch's amendment that would prohibit the federal government, state governments and local governments from forcing health providers, such as hospitals and physicians, to provide abortions.

The amendment would have also prohibited governmental bodies from receiving federal dollars if they take action against any health care provider because the provider does not cover, provide or make references for abortions.

No, it seems Sullivan is more concerned with scolding the Catholic bishops for their strong stance on abortion, going on to hint that the bishops are too dense to understand that they can never absolutely prevent the indirect subsidy of abortion:

[I]t would be nearly impossible to guarantee that your dollars never indirectly allowed someone to purchase a plan that covered abortion. Let's say IHOP provides its employees with a health care plan that includes coverage of abortion services (I'm not saying it does--I have no idea--so please don't start boycotting IHOP. This is just a hypothetical.) When you stopped in at your neighborhood IHOP for a Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity and paid for it with your own money, your dollars would--albeit in a very small way--contribute to IHOP's ability to provide that health care plan that pays for abortions.

Which is all to say that there are ways to provide some insulation between your money--tax dollars or otherwise--and the funding of abortions. But if the goal is a zero-tolerance system in which no one's money ever allowed the purchase of a health care plan that covers abortion, that may well be impossible.

The sermon from Sullivan to Catholic bishops is clear: get with the program and support Democratic health care proposals, even if Democrats will give no ground on life issues.