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New England Journal of Medicine Hails Catholic Health Association and Leadership Council of Women Religious for Their "Pro-Life" Support of Obama's Health Care Reform

Intrauterine Surgery to save life of baby  Many have written about the damage done by the CHA and the Leadership Council of Women Religious because of their support for the recently passed Health Care reform bill.

Here's a bit more of the fallout: George Annas, JD, MPH a frequent contributor to NEJM, who has criticized restricting a woman's right to abortion, recently authored an article congratulating the CHA and Leadership Council of Women Religious for their support of the Health Care Reform Act without the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to explicitly exlude elective abortions as a health care benefit. Here's the concluding paragraph:

"Perhaps the most conspicuous winners are the Catholic Health Association of the United States and the Catholic women's religious orders, whose members deliver health care in 1200 facilities and organizations nationwide. In mid-March, shortly before the final vote, both groups came out very strongly in favor of the Senate bill without the Stupak-Pitts amendment; the nuns noted that the bill "will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections, and it will make historic new investments...in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it." Amen."

(The cynical co-opting of pro-life language is the responsibility of the nuns group. The cynical use of "Amen" to conclude the less than prayerful opinion piece, is George Annas'. A congratulations from the pro physician-assisted suicide NEJM is only a Catholic merit badge in certain circles. Since Annas does not use the nuns' formal title, I wonder if he is aware that there is another group representing "Catholic religious orders?")

The US Bishops, however, and their legal consultants, concluded that the bill did not adequately protect the individual consciences of those opposed to abortion, nor continue the ban on the use of federal funds for abortions. Here's their statement:

 Health care reform must protect life and conscience, not threaten them. The Senate bill extends abortion coverage, allows federal funds to pay for elective abortions (for example, through a new appropriation for services at Community Health Centers that bypasses the Hyde amendment), and denies adequate conscience protection to individuals and institutions.

The regulations to prevent clever channeling of federal funds to abortion coverage have not yet been written. The bill's provision to allocate federal funds to Community Health Centers (e.g. run by Planned Parenthood) also did not concern CHA or LCWR.

Since the media didn't cover the statement by the "other" nuns leadership council, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, here is their statement:

In a March 15th statement, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, president

of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of the United

States Bishops in opposition to the Senate’s version of the health care legislation

under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of

adequate provision for conscience protection. Recent statements from groups like

Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of

Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Church’s position on

critical issues of health care reform.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the second conference of

Major Superiors of Women Religious in the United States, finds the provision of

the bill to include expansion of abortion funding and fails to include conscience

protection. We believe the bill needs to include the Hyde Amendment as passed by the House in November.

Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible

judgment. We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation.

As Annas confides in his article, "There's no politics like abortion politics." How true. It is unfortunate that some Catholic groups are aligning themselves with those who have no interest whatsoever in limiting abortion or anything that the Church teaches, for a slice of the federal pie. At least Judas didn't keep the money.

The Real Pro-Life Stance - Health Care Reform and Abortion Funding, New England Journal of Medicine

US Bishops to House of Representatives: Fix Flaws or Vote No on Health Care Reform Statement from Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious

Statement from Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious

Statement from Leadership Conference of Women Religious 

The photo shows life-saving surgery on a baby within its mothers womb.

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