A Promise Was Fulfilled

But what comes next?
by Michael McFadden, LC | Source: Catholic.net



With a 240-194 vote one week ago, the House of Representatives’ “public option” health care bill headed to the Senate—but without the leadership’s hoped-for abortion money loopholes.  Bart Stupak (D-MI) and 63 other Democrats joined Republican lawmakers as promised to defend and bolster the already-existing restriction of federal funds for abortions.

Said Stupak before the final vote: “Let us stand together on principle: no public funding for abortions, no public funding for insurance policies that pay for abortions”.  For the great majority of Americans who don’t want their tax dollars to go toward abortions, this was good news.  Their voice was defended by no less than 55% of the House membership.

At this point, however, the Stupak language faces further resistance as it heads to the Senate phase.  Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion advocates have joined with like-minded Democratic lawmakers to continue heated opposition to the Stupak-amended “public option”.  Likewise, versions in the Senate are much less clear than the Stupak-amended House bill, with like amendments already rejected in committee.


Moreover, the Senate Finance Committee previously rejected a measure to protect objections of conscience by medical personnel.  “Without this amendment”, held Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), “I believe that health care providers who object to abortions could face discrimination.”  It was subsequently rejected by a vote of 13-10.


Further dangers for seniors are likewise in store in present legislation.  The American Medical Association, which supports the reform effort, voiced concern.  Proposed 5% cuts in the top 10% of Medicaid reimbursements for doctors, does much more than save money: it serves as incentive   rationing their health care.  The elderly, among those most in need of health care services, will be among the first to feel the negative effects.


As the bishops have constantly addressed, we all have a responsibility to help make available not only quality health care, but also to make it reachable to all.  However, current legislative language in the Senate is in need of reform, if something acceptable for all can even be considered.  Defending the restriction on abortion funding, as well as supporting conscience protection and better senior care are not something that at least decent legislation can refuse.


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