Stupak, Casey, Pelosi: The all-Catholic winning team

The historic vote that made health-care reform into law ends a three-decades’ old anti-abortion strategy. The ground has shifted from … Continued

The historic vote that made health-care reform into law ends a three-decades’ old anti-abortion strategy. The ground has shifted from under the old-line bishops and the single-issue National Right to Life organizations or blogs like those from the redoubtable Catholic League that want to stop abortions by legal and/or judicial fiat. It’s painfully obvious that the previous strategy is obsolete. The unlikely trio of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were three Catholics who drove home this message as Sunday’s contest turned into Monday morning.

To use the inevitable sports’ metaphor, the vote was like the T-formation replacing the Single-Wing or how wearing sneakers in a 1940 football game allowed the Chicago Bears to squash the Washington Redskins, 73-0. The bishops and their erstwhile team of experts lost to a new Catholic team of political leaders who contributed in different ways to achieve a life-affirming vote of Catholic America’s long-espoused goal of health care for all without government funds spent for abortions.

For some time now, it has become apparent that the idea of passing a law to outlaw all abortions was a losing strategy. Thus, for instance, some Pro-lifers had argued that it was a bad idea to limit abortions to those necessary “for the health of the mother.” Instead, “life of the mother” was to be the criterion. But by avoiding compromise, the Pro-lifers failed to get enough votes for passage. Holding to the status quo actually allowed more abortions than would have been possible under a partial ban.

Barack Obama was supported by many Pro-life Democrats employing a new strategy, most notably Prof. Douglas Kmiec, who helped write a platform that intended to reduce abortions by “a thousand nicks and cuts.” He was joined by then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is now in Obama’s cabinet, directing health services aimed at reducing the need for abortions. For his part, the President showed a willingness to backtrack from liberal cant about abortion on demand as a health choice, abandoning previous promises to the contrary.

The Catholic team winning drive began when Speaker Pelosi reacted to the unwillingness of Pro-choice congressional factions to compromise with Pro-life language preserving the Hyde Amendment in health care reform. She gave Stupak the chance to propose his amendment and it was voted in largely by Republicans who – unfortunately — had no intention of supporting health care reform. The Stupak Amendment actually went beyond the existing restrictions, and not surprisingly it was embraced by the bishops’ conference and the old-line Pro-lifers. Mistakenly (in my opinion), the Stupak Amendment became a litmus test of orthodoxy. However, it was also a poison-pill to reform because it threatened to turn the vote on health care into a vote about abortion.

Just as a team at half-time makes adjustments, in the Senate, Pro-life Senator Casey from Pennsylvania used clearer language to make the Hyde Amendment workable. That language was embraced by the Catholic Hospitals Association, the nuns supporting Network, and Speaker Pelosi. With a promise from President Obama for an Executive Order applying Hyde to new legislation, Bart Stupak himself voted for making the Casey version into law. Representative Stupak was speaking for many – if not most – in Catholic America when he said that because of this new law, not only with the unborn child be protected but “the mother will be insured for pre- and post-natal care.”

Despite dire pleas that the Senate bill was “unacceptable,” the USCCB and the old-line Pro-lifers had been unable to influence Catholics of either the left, the right or the center. Their single-issue strategy could not hold even the Catholic Hospital Association or the nuns’ conference. The USCCB is like a secondary that has just left a receiver uncovered to walk into the end zone for a touchdown. (There was even “trash talk” from Rep. Randy Neugebauer who shouted out “baby killer” when Stupak was speaking.)

The winning Catholic team is now with the Democrats who know how to cross the goal line for health care. I think the old plays have to be wiped from the chalk-board to learn from the historic victory of a new political strategy.

  • thebump

    Pelosi is a vulgar, ignorant, pathetic and ridiculous creature and abortion industry shill who is no more Catholic than your average garden slug.

  • usapdx

    But are not the American bishops republicans?

  • YEAL9

    What we all need to do is to reflect on human life in all its forms and what it means to many of us with respect to abortion/deletion of the smallest of us. Abortion boils down to one simple question, when does human life begin? And one paramount observation/law: There is basic human morality that goes beyond the OT, the NT, the Demoss Foundation, the Aquadath Israel of America, the RCC Bishops, the Baptists for Life, the Methodists for Life, the Lutherns for Life and the other over 100 respect for life organizations listed at http://www.pregnantpause.org/people/wholist.jsp?name=life . A fetus dies without nourishment. A baby dies without nourishment. There is no difference.It is obvious that intercourse and other sexual activities are out of control with over one million abortions and 19 million cases of STDs per year in the USA alone. from the CDC-2006″Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain STDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of STDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs associated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars.”How in the world do we get this situation under control? A pill to temporarily eliminate the sex drive would be a good start. And teenagers and young adults must be constantly reminded of the dangers of sexual activity and that oral sex, birth control pills, condoms and chastity belts are no protection against STDs. Might a list of those having an STD posted on the Internet help? Sounds good to me!!!! Said names would remain until the STD has been eliminated with verification by a doctor. Lists of sexual predators are on-line. Is there a difference between these individuals and those having a STD having sexual relations while infected???Hmmm, so a growing baby is considered by some to be nothing more than an infection? Talk about having no respect for life!!!!! And Nature or Nature’s God is the #1 taker of everyone’s life. That gives some rational for killing the unborn or those suffering from dementia, mental disease or Alzheimer’s or anyone who might inconvenience your life???

  • outragex

    It’s amazing to me the Catholic bishops can’t recognize the “prolife” logic of helping 32 million people live longer and more whole lives via health insurance. Also, can’t they understand that many mothers will deliver healthier babies with pre- and post-natal care via insurance. The reactionary bishops can always work to change any parts of the reform plan IF they seem to be increasing abortion. And that “IF” seems unlikely to me. I fear the bishops have gotten so wrapped up in winning and maintaining political influence that they can’t see the Gospel for the politics. Their actions ironically dilute their cultural relevance and the Christian voice they are trying to represent in our culture.

  • Jen99

    Mr. Arroyo,With respect, you are profoundly mistaken if you think that Pelosi, Sebelius, Biden, Casey and the others represent true Catholic faith in action. If you consider them the “Catholic winning team” then you have yet to meet a real Catholic.Those who allow, support, endorse, fund or protect the non-existent “right” to abortion are simply not Catholic. It is impossible. There are many like Pelosi who delude themselves into thinking they are Catholic, but when they routinely spit in the eye of Church teaching and use their talents and their power in this world to further the destruction of innocent human life in the womb, they are very, very far from the true faith.If you want an example of a real Catholic, I can suggest many: Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Dolan, Fr. Frank Pavone, Fr. James Farfaglia, Deacon Keith Fournier, Fr. John Congdon, and my own pastor. I know many faithful Catholics who witness the “example” set by Pelosi and weep with disgust.It is possible to remain a faithful Catholic in public office, but I admit it must be very difficult. Our laws may say that abortion is acceptable, but those who align themselves with the Catholic faith have an obligation to view human life through the lens of truth, not our bad law. Freedom comes with great responsibility, and there can be no real freedom when God is left behind.This article suggests that Catholics in America who oppose abortion – yes, all abortion — are somehow the “old” Catholics who must make way for the “new” and more modern Catholics. Heresy, plain and simple.If modern, American Catholicism means accepting abortion, contraception, and the host of other immoral sexual attitudes pervading our society, then I must tell you that modern American Catholicism is not Catholicism at all.What Pelosi has done throughout this health care debate has been to scandalize the Church at every opportunity, and to grossly misrepresent and just plain lie about the true teaching of the Church. She has caused far too many to follow suit behind her, thinking Church teaching is some kind of lunch buffet where you can take what you like and leave the rest.You are sadly mistaken and your cheerleading for Pelosi and for what Stupak did are a bad witness.I’ll take my Catholic lessons from the real heroes of the faith — not from Pelosi, Stupak, Biden, Sebelius, or Casey.

  • persiflage

    Elected representatives have a primary moral and ethical obligation to represent the expressed wishes and best interests of the majority of their constituents – this is their first and foremost obligation. Religion and religious considerations needs to be set aside – leave it to the religionists to plead their case. In the case of reproductive rights, there are clearly an equal number of Catholics on either side of the issue. Naturally, Catholic Bishops and clerics in general will rubber stamp the Vatican – so what’s new?? Here’s the facts – the overwhelming need for national healthcare reform trumped the single issue interests of anti-abortionists in general, and obstructionist republican politicians that opportunistically used every ploy and devisive ruse to attempt defeat of healthcare reform legislation. And healthcare reform triumphed. Democratic politicians essentially did the jobs they were elected to do….the republicans continue to fail at every opportunity to do theirs. No doubt the same regressive forces were at work fighting the implementation of Social Security and Medicare in their day…..benefits that we now take for granted, and that provide a crucial safety net for millions. The same will be said of national healthcare reform in the future.The GOP will forever be known as the party of ‘no can do’ — meanwhile the Catholic Church and the power of the Vatican (a foreign political entity) are fading fast. Sadly, it’s interests are still firmly entrenched in the Supreme Court.

  • YEAL9

    Obviously the RCC is not the only tax-exempt group lobbying Congress.From guidestar.com:“The tax-exempt The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has a professional lobbying staff of approximately 528 in 28 offices nationwide, of those , two staff members based in Washington DC devoted 75% of their time, and the other devoted approximately 50% engaged in advocacy on (Congressional) legislative proposals related to federal hate crime laws, global anti-terrorism, the Middle East Peace Process, immigration issues, the use of government money to fund faith-based organizations and counter-terrorism proposals outside Washington, DC.”The total revenue for the ADL in 2008 was $59,960,134 mostly coming from contributions and grants.The largest of the lobbyists:(note the large sums of money being spent by health “profiteers” on lobbying )Lobbying Client Total 1998-2009 US Chamber of Commerce $606,758,180 Would the move to end tax exemptions for any group generate the added taxes/contributions needed to pay for universal health care?? The money spent by the health-“profiteers” on lobbying should be spent on health insurance for those who cannot presently afford it.

  • mbc7

    When the “compromise” doesn’t work and the government ends up paying for abortions, are these people going to do the only honorable thing and resign? Well, that is if the voters haven’t fired them first? Everyone but you think the “compromise” is a fig leaf.