I have commented little on the healthcare debate in DC since the focus of this blog is meant to be Church life and culture not partisan politics. And yet, the USCCB had asked us to stand against the bill due to its legal wording that permitted the Federal funding of abortion. Abortion is a moral issue, not political one and I feel free to comment on that.
A man who hours ago had my admiration for his principled stance against the funding of abortion was Congressman Bart Stupak. He and the a number of other pro-life Democrats stood courageously against the bill on the grounds that it funded abortion.
Today Mr. Stupak and the principled stance of other pro-life democrats gave way to political pressure. Mr Stupak et al. were given a political fig leaf and they took it. Mr Stupak has to know that the executive order of the President carries no weight because it cannot over-rule the Law that is going into effect upon the President’s signature. Both Democrat and Republican leaders I saw interviewed fully admit this. The Healthcare Bill, when signed into law permits Federal funding of Abortion. Anyone denied such funding on the the basis of an executive order can sue and will win because the law is clear and an executive order cannot set aside the law.
The reassurances that Mr. Stupak declares the executive order gives are without merit. He must know better than this. A fig leaf could not take away Adam and Eve’s shame. And the same remains true here as well: no fig leaf of some executive order can take away the shame of voting to fund abortion. It is shameful.
You can read the statement by the National Right to Life Committee here: http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/Release032110.html
I am interested in your understanding of this deal and if you think that the reassurances of Mr. Stupak are with or without merit. Since this is not a political blog I am grateful if you can avoid partisan jabs and comments that are more political than focused on the issue of abortion and how it relates to this bill.
In this video Congressman Stupak defends his decision
Update: Statement by Richard Doerflingerof the USCCB:
We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill. We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help members in assessing the options before them:
“One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion. Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops