Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.
If you’re a Catholic and you believe the Catechism implicitly then you believe that health care is a right and you’re inclined to support a bill that expands access to health care. You are inclined to hate the skyrocketing costs fueled by lawsuits. You see the scandal of the uninsured as one of the great injustices of our day. It makes you angry that health problems lock people into jobs that aren’t otherwise in their interest.
You have practically memorized Catechism No. 2211: “The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially, in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits.” (Emphasis added ... by your Catholic conscience.)
But the health care bill before Congress right now falls afoul of that Catechism directive in two fundamental ways:
1. Paying for abortion doesn’t honor or benefit the family. (It also violates the Ten Commandments, but we’re only focused on Catechism No. 2211 for the moment.)
There is a silly argument being made that the bill in Congress doesn’t really pay for abortions. Mother Jones goes so far as to say the “pay for abortions” part of the bill is just a typo.
That argument goes nowhere fast:
a. If it were a typo, it would be evidence that the bill hasn’t gone through the processes it should. Thorough, appropriate markup and amendments address such issues. Absent that, it should be voted down and done properly.
b. And even if this were a typo, the bill still is what it is.
The U.S. bishops have done us the service of pointing out that the bill does in fact fund abortions.
And besides, why would Bart Stupak be stubbornly opposing a bill that he likes on pro-life grounds and why would he and his wife be enduring a “living hell” over a typo?
As my own Kanas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann points out: “To believe that President Obama and/or the Senate and House leadership will correct these abortion issues at a later date is foolish. They are the ones responsible for making members of Congress accept government funding of abortion as an integral part of so-called health care reform. President Obama has gone back on many of his campaign promises, but has been scrupulously faithful in his promises to Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry to advance their agenda.”
2. U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposed method of passing health care reform is not “in keeping with the country’s institutions.”
Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution tells us how a bill is supposed to pass: “Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it”; and, (2) “in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively.”
Tony Blankley points out that the Supreme Court only recently reiterated that what the Constitution says here still counts, in Clinton v. New York City, 1998.
But the current bill can’t pass. And so, says the Wall Street Journal: “at the Speaker’s command, New York Democrat Louise Slaughter, who chairs the House Rules Committee, may insert what’s known as a ‘self-executing rule,’ also known as a ‘hereby rule.’ Under this amazing procedural ruse, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House—even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill.”
By insisting that this massive bill pass without 60 votes in the Senate and without a real up and down vote in the House, current leaders in Washington seem to be more wedded to their agenda than they are to the constitution.
Should a Catechism Catholic really care about procedural laws in his desire to defeat the devil who denies health care access to people? Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons would answer: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide?”
As the bill gets handed over from the desk of Barack Obama to the desk of Kathleen Sebelius at Health and Human Services, I’m confident there will develop even more reasons to oppose it from the Catechism. We forget that a bill isn’t just the original language — it’s the execution and application by the relevant agency, which is directed by appointees of the new administration, in this case an avowedly pro-abortion administration.
Here’s Archbishop Naumann’s column taking on Congress and raising questions about the Catholic Health Association.
And here is a site that helps you find contact information for your own Congressional office. Make sure they know you want them to vote the Catechism.
Archbishop Naumann also recommends looking up some swing states. Ask their U.S. Representatives to represent the U.S.