Any Chance we can ever debate the case for Life on its merits?

By Dave Andrusko

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Back in November I wrote a series of NRL News Today stories about the increasingly transparent anti-Catholic posture of the Obama Administration. Obama’s latest mandate compelling Catholic [and other religiously-affiliated] universities, hospitals, and charities to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization and contraception is the latest example of a disregard that is awakening not only Catholics but all people of faith to the central truth: this is about religious liberty.

I am re-running the story I wrote November 2 to remind us both how increasingly bold the Obama Administration has become and how we ought to have seen this coming.

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Yesterday’s story—“Can Anyone But Catholics Apply”—analyzed an article in the Washington Post that provides plenty of evidence to support the charge that coursing through the veins of the Obama administration is an anti-Catholic bias. The immediate subject of contention was a decision by Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (led by a militant pro-abortionist, Kathleen Sebelius, former governor of Kansas) “to end funding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help victims of human trafficking, or modern-day slavery,” as the Post’s Jerry Markon put it.

The USCCB’s crime? Not inefficiency or inability. Their grant proposal was rated higher than two of the three groups which were awarded the grants.

Rather it was “The bishops organization, in line with the church’s teachings, had refused to refer trafficking victims for contraceptives or abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, and HHS officials [influenced by political appointees, as the story makes clear] said they made a policy decision to award the grants to agencies that would refer women for those services.”

The Huffington Post picked up the assault on the bishops in a piece whose title leaves no room for misunderstanding: “The men behind the war on women,” by Laura Bassett. There is too much to rebut in one story, so let me just address a few of the charges.

* First, it’s nice to be included among the bad guys. ”We consider the two biggest opponents on the other side the Catholic bishops and National Right to Life,” Donna Crane, policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said. “They are extremely heavy-handed on this issue.” Of course by “heavy-handed” they mean we are effective advocates for pro-life policies!

* There is a lot of discussion about the pro-life Stupak Amendment (to ObamaCare), passed in the House and eliminated from the final bill because of resistance from pro-abortion leaders in the Senate. Bassett makes it sound as if the Stupak Amendment (actually Stupak-Pitts) dealt with only one part of this massive bill, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In fact it would have applied the principles of longstanding federal laws, such as the Hyde Amendment, to the new programs ObamaCare created. In addition to affording important conscience protections for pro-life health care providers, that is what the House-passed Protect Life Bill is intended to rectify.

The Bishops’ support for the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (HR 361) and the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR 1179) is portrayed as just another example of a “group of men with no real background in law or medicine, but blessed with a strong personal interest in women’s bodies,” according to Bassett. A less biased perspective might see the truth: “Religious freedom is a fundamental freedom,” as Bishop William Lori, the chair of the Ad hoc Committee [on Religious Liberty] told Huffington Post in an interview. “It should not become a second class right to other so-called rights that have been discovered farther down the road.” He added,” No one would ever dispute the ready availability of so-called reproductive services in our society for anyone who wants it.”

Just one other misguided charge. Bassett writes that while the Bishops “have always been vocal on the issue of choice, they have emerged since the 2009 health care reform debate as one of the most powerful anti-abortion advocates on Capitol Hill.” What does that tell the proverbial man from Mars? That ObamaCare is every bit as bad as National Right to Life has said it is—that it contains “multiple provisions that provide authorizations for subsidies for abortion, both implicit and explicit, and also multiple provisions that opened doors to abortion-expanding administrative actions.” And that, of course, doesn’t even address the rationing components deeply embedded in ObamaCare.

In reality, Bassett’s all-out assault on the Bishops (and tangentially National Right to Life) is built on the assumption that the reasons pro-lifers voice for their support for defenseless life is just cover for baser motives. Wouldn’t it be nice, just once, to argue the case for life on its merits?

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