Great damage was done to the pro-life movement yesterday with the endorsement of the Senate healthcare plan by nearly 60 Catholic sisters.

With the future of the healthcare bill in question, in rode the habit-less cavalry of sisters to the rescue. The damage done is difficult to gauge but the endorsement has been trumpeted by news sources more than the original statement of opposition from the bishops. This letter and the ensuing media firestorm will certainly dispirit pro-lifers and confuse the faithful. Many of the news reports I’ve seen have erroneously tended to portray the nuns as an equal voice to the bishops, citing a “split” in the Catholic Church.

The sisters point to the many good things the bill may accomplish. But you can’t caveat evil. It’s still just evil.

Remember when Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Catholic Church had been confused for centuries about abortion. This endorsement may have the effect of deceiving many as to what the true teachings of the Church are concerning life.

But the problem is even bigger than that, in that not only do the sisters endorse the health care plan but they attempt to define “pro-life” down by expanding its definition so badly as to make the term elusive and unclear. The sisters even challenge the bishops’ opposition to the Senate healthcare plan saying they’re not truly pro-life because they oppose the bill. These are the same tired talking points that Congressman Patrick Kennedy attempted with very bad effect. 

Here’s some quotes from the letter: “We write to urge you to cast a life-affirming “yes” vote when the Senate health care bill (H.R. 3590) comes to the floor of the House for a vote as early as this week…This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it…For us, this health care reform is a faith mandate for life and dignity of all of our people…We urge you to vote “yes” for life by voting yes for health care reform in H.R. 3590.”

Now I personally have never heard of a “life affirming” abortion. Whose life would be affirmed?

They then even accuse those who see the situation differently (a group that includes the bishops) of misleading Catholics. The sisters write:
“And despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in support of pregnant women. It’s not worth debating each of these points as that’s been gone over so many times. You can see the bishop’s refutation of these arguments here.

Do these sisters believe that pro-life congressman Bart Stupak who is endangering his entire career by standing against his party is simply misinformed. Do they believe the 12 pro-life Democrats with him are simply wrong. Do they believe Kathleen Sebelius lied when she explained how the government would be funding abortions.

Stupak seems unmoved by the shocking endorsement. He was quoted by Fox News saying, “When I’m drafting right to life language, I don’t call up the nuns.” He says he instead confers with other groups including “leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee.”

The problem with the nuns endorsement is that they give cover to those who actively seek to destroy the pro-life movement. This endorsement is a testament to either an amazing gullibility or sinful disingenuousness and could result in the loss of lives and even worse, souls. They may succeed in helping to pass this healthcare bill but they have not succeeded in defining pro-life down. They have only defined themselves down.