A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


"False claims"

E. J. Dionne's latest column is up on our Web site. When it comes to the Senate bill and its prolife provisions, he takes the side of the Catholic sisters who support it. Dionne points out something that strikes me as important, especially in light of accusations that the Catholic sisters have disrespected the bishops by publicly questioning their conclusions about the Senate bill:

Rather astonishingly, the bishops' statement misrepresented the view of the CHA, whose members include 600 Catholic hospitals and 1,400 nursing homes.Cardinal George acknowledged that the bishops' "analysis of the flaws in the legislation is not completely shared by the leaders of the Catholic Health Association." Then he said: "They believe, moreover, that the defects that they do recognize can be corrected after the passage of the final bill."But Sister Carol, as she is known, said the latter assertion was flatly not true. "We're not saying that," she said. Her organization believes the bill as currently written guarantees that there will be no federal funding for abortion and does not need to be "corrected." Why the bishops would distort the position of the church's major health association is, to be charitable, a mystery.

At least one bishop has had to correct himself after relying on that inaccurate summary from the USCCB. St. Petersburg's bishop, Robert Lynch, is also on the board of the CHA. But he was in the hospital as a patient when the CHA released its statement. Catching up with the debate, he backed the USCCB on his blog -- until Sister Carol ("a good woman of the Church, no liberal trouble-maker by any stretch of the imagination," he avers) contacted him to set the record straight. He did so, much to his credit, in another blog post.The CHA did have some specific suggestions for what might be included in the reconciliation package, which they expressed in a letter (pdf file here). But they weren't about abortion. However you may respond to Cardinal George's "Midwestern parlance," his line about "a pig in a poke" is based on a completely inaccurate understanding of what the CHA (and others) actually said.Given what's at stake, it is vitally important to get this right. If you're inclined to give the bishops' interpretation more weight simply because it comes from the bishops, this sort of thing should give you pause. Even bishops can make mistakes. But this is a matter about which we can't afford to be careless.


Commenting Guidelines

Mollie, I actually removed that CNA refer from my piece as it was wrong. Once I got the Italian original I saw that the Osservatore Romano article was merely summing up the various positions and indeed gave space to Jost's arguments. It took no position, and the CNA write-up was really off-base to depict it as it did.

I really enjoyed Bishop Lynch's blog (linked above) I thought his writing on various issues showed a generous spirit.

Thanks, David. Good to know.

Regarding false claims, if it were true that "abortion is not in this Health Care Bill", than no insurance plan would be available that would cover elective abortion.That being said, who needs FOCA when you have a government sponsored Health Care Bill that will include the option of insurance coverage for abortion?

Nancy, if you object to the notion that the bill is acceptable as long as it does not permit federal funding of abortion, you need to take that up with the bishops.

The Bill provides the option of insurance coverage for elective abortion. How do you justify the inclusion of optional insurance for abortion in this National Health Care Bill when elective abortion destroys the Life of a Human Individual? If it were true that "abortion is not in this Health Care Bill", than the option for insurance coverage for abortion would not be in this Health Care Bill.

Just to be clear, the Stupak amendment specifically allows for insurance to cover abortion. It prohibits federal funding for that insurance, but does not restrict them in any other way.

I just came across this in the Vox Nova blogsite:Israel has universal health care, and Israel is able to do such in part because of all our funding. So why has none of the same voices raised concern about American money being used for the sake of abortion policies in Israel? (