One of the crazier elements of the health care reform debate has been the discussion around abortion. The catholic bishops have opined that unless we specifically prohibit funding for abortions in the bill, they cannot support it. Never mind the help it would provide to millions of poor Americans. And besides - since when do catholic bishops write our legislation? Alas, they apparently do - and so the House healthcare bill included provisions that specifically prohibited abortion coverage on the newly created exchanges. The Senate bill didn't go quite so far; however, it made sure that anyone seeking abortion coverage had to pay out of their own pocket and couldn't get one paid for by Federal funds. This would ensure that the new exchanges abide by the Hyde amendment - which bars such federal funding. (Color me totally confused but doesn't the federal government subsidize abortions with a massive tax subsidy for healthcare coverage for employers, the vast majority of which include abortions in their health care plans?) Anyhow, it was encouraging on some many levels to read this letter from leaders of catholic nuns:
The health care bill that has been passed by the Senate and that will be voted on by the House will expand coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans. While it is an imperfect measure, it is a crucial next step in realizing health care for all. It will invest in preventative care. It will bar insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It will make crucial investments in community health centers that largely serve poor women and children. 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. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.