Phil Lawler, writing at, argues that the health-care reform legislation in its current form must be opposed by Catholics.

In the commentary, Lawler points out that even if federal funding of abortion is banned — something that appears unlikely — the bill also provides for federal funding of contraceptives, sterilization, in vitro fertilization treatments and “sex-reassignment surgeries.”

“He who pays the piper calls the tune, and if the federal government pays for health-care treatment, the White House ultimately will set the standards to determine which procedures warrant support,” Lawler writes. “We already know where President Obama stands on embryonic stem-cell research, and we can easily predict how he will respond to the use of medicines obtained from human embryos in the treatment of diseases. Such medicines (if any ever appear) will receive federal subsidies. On the other hand, efforts to provide rudimentary medical care (as opposed to extraordinary treatment) for comatose patients will be stifled. So at both beginning and end of human life, the financial pressures will be adverse to the cause of human dignity.”

Moreover, the legislation would establish a regime that violates a very important principle of Catholic social teaching: subsidiarity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 1894) explains subsidiarity in this way: “Neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.”

“Allowing the ultimate authority over health-care decisions to flow to Washington — to be settled by functionaries who are unacquainted with the circumstances of individual cases — violates the principles of common sense, American federalism and subsidiarity,” Lawler writes.