Sister Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association, wrote a recent article[i] that attempted to clear up what she believes are some misconceptions about recent healthcare legislation, popularly dubbed Obamacare.
Sister says that, as of right now, this healthcare reform has assured the provision of various benefits, and lists a number that she finds compelling. They are, too, considered in isolation.
Then Sister adds what, for a Catholic – or any ethically competent person, really - is the salient bit. Whatever one thinks about the good or evil of creating a federally-controlled, universal healthcare system, if killing babies (or anyone else) is part of the package, this is a death-dealing project. “The law also includes funding for states to develop programs that assist pregnant and parenting women. The funds grant women access to a network of supportive services that can help them complete high school or postsecondary degrees and gain access to health care, child care, family housing and services for those who are victims of domestic or sexual violence. The ACA’s provisions for pregnant and parenting women have often been lost in the clutter of coverage but represent pro-life policies that CHA strongly supported as the law was being written.”
What Sister is saying is that people who are concerned about abortion are missing all the life-affirming elements of the legislation – all the comprehensive benefits that might encourage a pregnant woman to let her unborn child live.
What people who are concerned about abortion are saying is that this isn’t good enough if it also pays for a woman to kill another person. There are no restrictions against funding abortion in Obamacare. The legislation provides:
· Money for “Community Health Centers” and in-school clinics: Jim Sedlak of STOPP (Stop Planned Parenthood) says many of these are to be run by Planned Parenthood and other groups that sell abortion as an “essential service.”[ii] Since there are no abortion-restrictions in the federal health care legislation, there is nothing to prevent these centers from using it to pay for abortions.
· Money for federal insurance plans: Obamacare provides two or more state-sponsored insurance plans. While some plans may have restrictions on abortion federal dollars will pay for abortions on state plans without restrictions.
· Money for “temporary high-risk pools”: Obamacare provides $5 billion for “temporary high-risk pools” that covers people with pre-existing conditions until the actual health care exchanges kick in 2014. Without abortion restrictions, this money is available to fund abortions. [iii]
In fact, a subsequent 2012 ruling makes it possible “that States that have passed laws prohibiting abortion coverage will be forced to provide that coverage anyway.” [iv]
When one adds that to the nightmare of either forcing religious organizations (never mind individual businesses) to provide abortion and contraception coverage in their insurance plans – or to cease any activity that requires an employee (such as running a hospital, an orphanage, or a school) – the “pro-life” vision of Obamacare that Sister Keehan holds out to us seems awfully fanciful.
Or…just plain awful.
Spero columnist Stephanie Block also edits the New Mexico-based Los Pequenos newspaper.
[i] Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, “Our Catholic Faith & the Affordable Care Act.” The article first appeared as a Common Good Forum in the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good website: www.catholicsinalliance.org.
[ii] Charlie Butts, “ObamaCare and in-school abortion clinics,” OneNewsNow, 6-20-12.
[iii] Steven W. Mosher, “Does Obamacare Fund Abortion? Let Us Count the Ways,” Population Research Institute
Weekly Briefing: 2010 (v12).
[iv] Nathanael Bennett, “ObamaCare’s Abortion Funding Rule Finalized,” American Center for Law and Justice,