Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The USCCBs Bully Position on Patients' Rights.
While the U.S. Senate appears poised to finally pass a health care reform bill before Christmas, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops remains opposed to the Senate version on the ground that its limits on abortion funding do not go far enough. According to statements issued last Friday and Saturday by the Bishops, the Manager's Amendment (full text) to H.R. 3590 "does not seem to allow purchasers who exercise freedom of choice or of conscience to 'opt out' of abortion coverage in federally subsidized health plans that include such coverage. Instead it will require purchasers of such plans to pay a distinct fee or surcharge which is extracted solely to help pay for other people's abortions." The Bishops stressed that their criteria for acceptable health care reform includes three moral criteria: "respect for life and conscience; affordability for the poor; and access to much-needed basic health care for immigrants." According to The Boston Pilotyesterday, the Bishops applauded amendments that expanded adoption tax credits and assistance for pregnant women, but the abortion language apparently remains the block to obtaining their support.
At issue is nine pages of language (pp. 38-46 of Manager's Amendment) on how abortion coverage will be handled. It provides (1) any state may elect to bar abortion coverage in policies offered through the Exchange in that state; (2) elsewhere each insurance company may decide whether or not its plans will cover abortion services; (3) if a plan does cover abortions, no federal subsidy may be used to pay for that coverage; (4) instead the insurer must collect a separate payment from the insured for that coverage and segregate those funds for use for abortion services.
The Bishops' concern seems to be that under this arrangement, abortion coverage will still be in some policies that receive government subsidies, so long as a separate check is written for the part of the premium applicable to that coverage. Instead, according to a Dec. 14 letter from the Bishops, they want language in the House bill that was proposed as an amendment by Sen. Ben Nelson, but was defeated by the Senate. That language provides that no federal funds could be used "to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes abortion coverage." After that loss, Sen. Nelson negotiated the language in the Manager's Amendment and according to AP argued that the differences were "about a staple." By that he means that the disagreement is over whether abortion coverage-- which would be paid for separately in either case-- would be a part of the subsidized policy (not acceptable to the Bishops) or in a separate rider stapled to it (acceptable to the Bishops).
As an aside, the U.S. is not the only country struggling with the abortion issue. Interfax reported yesterday that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed amendments to the country's Federal Advertising Law banning the advertising of abortions in a wide variety of media and locations. Many of the restrictions seem to be aimed at preventing advertising of abortions to minors.
Persecuted Doctors and Government Regulation of Health Care.
Methodist Leadership and the Manhattan Declaration.
The declaration has been widely reported and discussed in the secular and mostChristian media. However, acknowledgment of the declaration among United Methodist institutional leaders is conspicuous by its absence. United Methodist News Service has carried no articles on the declaration. The United Methodist Reporter printed one small paragraph acknowledging the declaration and commenting that the declaration called for the possibility of civil disobedience. This is disappointing.
The declaration basically is a reflection of traditional Christianity. It would be supported by the vast majority of United Methodists in the pews. It has been supported by many United Methodist pastors and laypersons (at least among those who know about it).
More importantly, it is basically in agreement with the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church. Not only do our Social Principles and our Book of Resolutions support almost every issue raised by the declaration, they would not be in conflict even with the more controversial ones, including the dignity of human marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman, the importance of the family, and the sanctity of human life.
However, the Manhattan Declaration obviously is an expression of traditional and evangelical Christianity and, as one seminary person related to me once, “We choose not to be identified with that form of Christianity.”…
So, if mainline leaders are not interested in declarations like the Manhattan Declaration what are they interested in? Well, for one, the bishops issued a statement on “God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action.” This statement, which was to be read aloud in every United Methodist Church, would direct the church’s energy toward reversing global warming and concern for carbon footprints.
Following this there is a commitment of church resources toward seeking to influence the events at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The World Council of Churches wanted churches to sound bells, drums, gongs, or other instruments on Dec. 13, to call attention to the importance of this event. At this moment United Methodist apportionment money is paying the way of at least six and probably more UM agency staff and board members to go to Copenhagen and lobby or demonstrate or do whatever at the conference….
Whatever is occupying the time and energies of church leaders it does not seem to be on issues relating to marriage, family, dignity of the individual, and religious liberty. These are the issues addressed by the Manhattan Declaration.
Christians are Being Persecuted by Marxist Christmas Haters.
The First Amendment to the Constitution reads, in part, that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The First Amendment explicitly applies to "Congress," but through a series of liberal Supreme Court rulings, it has wrongly been extended to the executive and judicial branches of government as well. It was clearly intended to keep the government from establishing a state-run religion, or favoring one religion over another.
Nowhere in the Constitution do the words "separation of church and state" appear. These words are from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote 15 years later to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, regarding their fears that Connecticut's constitution lacked protections concerning their religious practices. Jefferson agreed with them and wrote that states should "make no laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state." Justice William Rehnquist stated that the "Establishment Clause" as it's commonly known, was intended to protect local establishments of religion from federal interference."Because of liberal misinterpretations of the First Amendment there is no prayer in schools, no Ten Commandments on government property (except for historical references) and more and more often, none of those horribly evil "Christmas breaks." This brings me to the perfect example of liberalism's "freedom from religion" campaign, the WWI War Memorial in the Mojave Desert in California. This memorial was built in 1934 on private land and has a plaque that reads "In memory of the dead of all wars." It was eventually purchased by the National Parks Department. It's a simple cross built high on a hilltop overlooking the desert. Then one day Frank Bruno decided it "offended" him on his drives back to the Marxist state of Oregon. Bruno sued in district court to have it torn down. Of course, the ACLU was only too glad to help, and Bruno won the case, and the subsequent appeals. The Republican-controlled Congress then sold one acre of land the memorial sits on, to the VFW, meaning government no longer owned the property.
However, this didn't stop the ACLU. The 9th Circuit court of Appeals disallowed the sale, saying that carving out a tiny parcel of land "will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement" of religion. Ironically, the 9th circuit used the same Constitution to order the memorial's destruction, as the men who died fought for. The case was heard by the United States Supreme Court this fall, with a ruling expected early next year.
This cross doesn't establish a religion, it's a war memorial. What's next? Renaming Corpus Christi, Texas (body of Christ); Las Cruces, N.M. (the crosses); and Sacramento, Calif. (the Sacraments)? The Navy better do away with all those Los Angeles Class nuclear powered submarines. And Arlington Cemetery has to go, too. Welcome to your world if liberals ever run it.
While I'm still allowed to say it, "Merry Christmas" to all!
Health Care Reform Is A Loaded Gun With Six Bullets.
I’m sorry, but I refuse to be blamed for the deliberate insertion of false ideas about the value of human life, including support for abortion, into the very packages and programs which should have a proper respect for life at their core—and which, in fact, lose their very meaning as “health care” without that fundamental respect for the life, rights and dignity of each person. I will not be backed into that corner. I will not stand accused of indifference to those less financially fortunate because I balk when somebody presses an ideological gun to my temple and calls it “concern for the poor.”
In that gun there are at least six bullets: Abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, harvesting of human embryonic materials, gender-change procedures, and medical rationing by those who serve an anti-life ethic. None of the major issues which are being debated, including the astronomically high cost of these Federal proposals, has very much to do with insuring the poor. There are far cheaper ways to get that done which do not carry all this ideological baggage. To my way of thinking, those who insist that the culture of death be injected into every health discussion are the ones who are showing a callous disregard of the poor.
They are, in fact, allowing their ideological passion to impede the process of helping the poor and (as Phil notes today in The abortion distortion) they are intent upon setting up a system that must be dismantled as soon as less ideological heads prevail. Look: With 85% of Americans already insured, and some portion of the remainder capable of, but opposed to, insuring themselves (for many young and healthy people choose not to use their income in this way), we find ourselves within striking distance of full coverage even through existing mechanisms. That striking distance is so close that it would apparently cost considerably less simply to insure the poor through existing carriers than to approve any of the sweeping Federal proposals to date. Tax incentives and other pressures and inducements could bring this about even more cheaply.
The Catholic Medical Association thinks the Federal government needs to start over, and to quit ignoring both life ethics and the benefits of subsidiarity. So let’s not kill any more poor people than necessary to get this done, shall we? And let’s stop calling a spade a heart, and a heart a spade.