The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has strongly condemned the health care reform bill working its way through the House. They claim that the bill’s prohibition of federal funding for abortion is a “legal fiction”.
Their position is hypocritical for a number of reasons. First, it doesn’t matter if a health care reform bill explicitly prohibits funding abortions. The Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funds from being used to fund abortions (except in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger).
But even more hypocritical is the fact that the church has never protested against private insurance companies that provide abortion services. All the major health insurance companies — including Aetna, Blue Cross, Cigna, and United Healthcare — cover abortions.
Why is it acceptable for private insurance companies to pay for abortions, and there is nary a peep from the church, but even the faint possibility that the government might possibly fund abortions, through some legal technicality, bring out their strongest condemnation? Indeed, is their position really about abortion, or is it actually against public funding of health care?
But what makes their position stunningly hypocritical is the fact that even though lack of universal health care causes 45,000 extra deaths every year, you don’t see the Catholic Church vigorously advocating for universal coverage. Instead, you see them impeding health care reform. It might make you wonder if they really do care about life. Or are they just being political? As one blogger put it:
The long running alignment between the church’s antiabortion activism and the right wing has been plausible as just circumstance, but we may now be entering an area where the American Catholic Church risks looking like nothing so much as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican party.