More funding for abortion is just the status quo

March 25, 2010 § 11 Comments

And hey, given that it is the status quo it is fine and dandy to formally support the law that does it, as long as you support that law for other reasons, right?

I checked into what my own bishop is teaching about the matter, and was referred to this:

Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.


§ 11 Responses to More funding for abortion is just the status quo

  • S.pamb.ot says:

    Starting to come around to your point of view. Originally, I drafted a comment disagreeing with you, but now I'm not so sure. (Don't you just hate me, I'm so wishy-washy?)

    It was actually this concluding statement in the link you give:
    “As bishops of the Catholic Church, we speak in the name of the Church and for the Catholic faith itself.”

    For my original draft comment, I tried to find a statement that would have said the exact opposite, something to the effect, “Our opinion is based competent legal advice” or something. In other words, if it's a novel legal question, and one set of lawyers have one opinion and another set have another opinion, I don't feel any obligation to support either side early on. But if the bishops are saying, 'we have studied that matter and this is our conclusion', I am starting to feel obligated to do as they say.

    Is that bad, the way I'm thinking about this?

  • zippy says:

    Is that bad, the way I'm thinking about this?

    Not that I can see.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    And this, by the way, is the answer to Kevin Jones's very strange and forced defense of Stupak (in the other thread) which includes inter alia the “hey, even the Republicans' plan included funding for abortion to save the life of the mother.”

  • zippy says:

    In fairness to Kevin, I think he was proposing this scenario:

    The bill was going to pass no matter what Stupak did. There were other Democrats who did not want to vote for it for political reasons, but who had committed to vote for it if absolutely necessary.

    That put enough pressure on Pelosi and Obama for them to offer Stupak the EO.

    So Stupak – in this scenario, which we don't know whether or not is the case – had a choice of letting the bill pass without the EO, or with the EO. All he had the actual clout to actually get at that point was the EO: it wasn't a case of him being able to actually block the bill.

    So he took the EO, since passed-with-EO was, in his estimation, better than passed-without-EO, which was the only alternative.

    Again, I don't know if this is true; nor, even if it were true, would it be the choice I would have made myself if I had been helicoptered into exactly his position. But if is true then it would in fact be a case of Stupak acting to limit evil to the extent he had the power to do so.

    Of course if this is the back room situation then Stupak's attack on the bishops is incomprehensible: he should be just saying that he got the best deal he could for the unborn, which was the EO. That might be a little more of a 'reveal' on the back room deal than would make some people comfortable, but it would at least be honest. That is why Stupak's attack on people who supported his own amendment, including the bishops, vitiates against Kevin's interpretation; but not dispositively.

  • zippy says:

    I should say that the more Stupak talks, the less likely this scenario seems. I think it is much more likely that things are simply as he is publicly saying that they are. What I get from his public statements is that he acknowledges that the EO is weaker than a statutory requirement, and by doing this he got “both” health care reform and protection of life. But in acknowledging that the EO is weaker than statute he is telling us which was, in the end, to him, the higher priority.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    Legally, the EO is _nothing_. Literally, nothing. A presidential order cannot change the content of legislation. The legislation prima facie includes funding for plans that include abortion coverage. Indeed, the whole “Capps Amendment” thing that we have discussed makes it _absolutely clear_ that such plans will be included. Since the supporters of the plan itself (e.g., MZ & co.) are talking about the Capps amendment and the actuarial estimate of the value of abortion coverage, I have every reason to believe that this is part of the bill.

    Now, in that case, for the President to write an EO saying that no plans including abortion coverage will be included (if, indeed, any EO would even be so clear) would be an attempt to _change_ the legislation ex post facto, indeed, to line-item-veto a part of it. This is _not possible_. The line item veto was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It cannot be done. Legally, the EO is _worthless_ for protecting life. It isn't just “weaker than” something else.

    If Stupak did not know that, he is grossly negligent. If this was going to be his excuse for voting for the bill, he had the responsibility to find out what it would actually do, and to take the time necessary for that. This, he did not do, though the Catholic bishops themselves did homework on it and would have been only too happy to give him information.

    If Stupak did know that, then he is just cynical and deceptive.

    If he suspects/suspected it, but doesn't want to know more, then he is being _deliberately_ negligent in order to quiet his conscience.

    This is _bad stuff_. It is not excusable in the least, even waiving all the other evils of the bill and even on Stupak's own terms according to which he supposedly really cares about this vast expansion of federal abortion funding.

    It is inexcusable.

  • zippy says:

    Legally, the EO is _nothing_.

    I understand that; but legally nothing isn't precisely the same as nothing at all. I'm not even defending Stupak. I expect most politicians fit the description “doesn't want to know more, … being _deliberately_ negligent in order to quiet his conscience”, especially anyone who can run as a Democrat with a straight face.

    I'm just agreeing with Kevin that getting pro-life concerns center stage in the process and getting the EO isn't literally nothing.

    I mean, on the face of it Stupak and I have radically different views of the world – mine being the right one and his being one of many wrong ones, of course, hah! – so subjective evaluation can only go so far. I do think that Stupak, whatever his own understanding etc may be, has probably done more to harm the concept of the pro-life Democrat than to help it.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    Zippy, I'd be inclined to say that what Stupak accomplished for the pro-life cause was showing the Democrats that the stupid pro-life Democrats will be satisfied with empty gestures. Some sort of, “Hey, at least they were talking about pro-life issues” really seems incredibly weak to me as a argument that something was gained, especially weighed against the fact that what this all meant in the end was that Stupak and co. settled for fool's gold. What sort of message does that send to their fellow Democrats? “Oh, okay, so we just have to do something legally meaningless and vaguely symbolic for you, and you'll go along with whatever outrageous legislation we twist your arm on.”

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    Maybe that was your point about the concept of the pro-life Democrat, but I'm not sure.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    Here would be a good analogy, it seems to me: Passing a ban on abortion that includes a “health” exception that, *as everyone knows*, will be used under Doe v. Bolton to allow abortion for any reason as a matter of the mother's “psychological health” or “age” or whatever.

    Remember when the pro-lifers in Congress were trying to pass a PBA ban, and they _wouldn't_ include a health exception, for that very reason? Because they know it would render the entire bill empty. The pro-choicers fought them on that all the way, and I remember even talking to someone at the time who said that they should have adopted the health exception, regardless of how it would be used, because it would put the pro-life issue on the stage, the legislation would have symbolic value, and so forth. Just exactly these arguments that are being made about Stupak. They held out instead for something that actually meant something about the protection of the unborn, and they were right. If they'd put the health exception in there, through which you could drive a truck, they would have been the laughingstock of the left (if only behind closed doors), and rightly so.

  • zippy says:

    Maybe that was your point about the concept of the pro-life Democrat, but I'm not sure.

    That and more. I think that as a matter of net effect, both inside and outside the party, Stupak seriously undermined the whole concept of the pro-life Democrat, even if the opposite was his intention.

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