To Bart Stupak on the Eve of Battle
By Deal Hudson
Dear Representative Stupak,
Your statement on Saturday following the decision of Sen. Ben Nelson to support the Senate health-care bill was a great relief to millions of Catholics in this country. Your comment that “the Senate abortion language is not acceptable” provided moral and religious clarity at a crucial moment in the history of our nation and Church.
You pinpointed the problems with the abortion language of the manager’s amendment, noting the “dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage.” You also rejected the proposed “segregation of funds” as “another departure from current policy prohibiting federal subsidy of abortion language.”
Senator Nelson believes that the language you find unacceptable has “accomplished the goal” of preventing “tax dollars from being used to subsidize abortions.” As your statement infers, Nelson is simply wrong about this and, for whatever reason, refused a briefing with National Right to Life, whose ownstatement further explains the shortcomings of the manager’s amendment.
Nelson’s decision was influenced by a deal he was offered so that his state of Nebraska would save money in Medicaid payments. How can that compare to the thousands, and eventually millions, of aborted children that will directly result from federal funding for abortion? Surely you agree that the right to life is not a principle that can be for sale at any price.
In all likelihood, your resolve and leadership is going to be tested when the health-care bill passes in the Senate, passes through conference, and returns to the House for a final vote. Sixty-three Democrats joined you in supporting your amendment banning federal funding for abortion, but the amendment itself added only ten new votes to the total.
Nonetheless, if those ten votes remain constant (including your own), the health-care bill, in its present form, cannot pass the House.
I don’t need to tell you that Catholic leadership in the Congress has, for many years, been sending a mixed message on the non-negotiable life issues to this nation’s citizens, Catholic and non-Catholic. If the House, following your leadership, rejects this bill because of federal funding of abortion, it will help correct much of the widespread confusion about Catholic teaching. (It will also bring anger, but I have a feeling you’re prepared for that.)
I hope you will continue to look beyond the political upside or downside of your efforts to remove abortion funding from health-care reform. None of those calculations can matter in the face of the unborn child.
Many of those lives hang in the balance as we approach the eve of the health-care battle, which may well be Christmas Eve itself. You will recall that the Christ child Himself faced a threat to His life in Herod not long after He was born. He wasn’t the last.
It’s not your job, or mine, to gather our children and flee to another land. But it is our job to insure that the time will never come when it is necessary.
With prayers and best wishes during this Advent season,
Deal W. Hudson
Executive Director, Catholic Advocate