The conflict over the Catholic church's influence in U.S. health care reform is intense: Will the church's efforts to shut off all access to insurance coverage for abortion, even if people want to pay for it themselves, trump its strong desire to offer more care and better care for the poor and working Americans?
The abortion issue puts it all on the table for Catholic health programs, the leading non-governmental care providers in the USA. Running the table is Richard Doerflinger, lobbyist for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
NPR's Laura Parker's profile of him says,
He and John Carr, who also works for the bishops... helped craft the final wording of the anti-abortion amendment offered by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., that cleared the way for House passage of the health care bill by five votes.
"He's a real smart guy," says Stupak, referring to Doerflinger. "Pretty detailed guy who does his homework ."
Now Stupak is back with an effort to cut off access to individuals to purchase insurance for abortion services, even if they pay for it themselves.
The Christian Science Monitor, looking at the abortion issue, points out:
In sum, when it comes to coverage for abortions, in the House version you'd need two different policies. In the Senate version you'd just need to write two checks and anti-abortion House members think that's getting awfully close to federal funding for the procedure. (Monitor report: House Democrats scramble to find a majority to vote for the Senate's healthcare bill.)
The Senate bill language "basically says that your federal tax subsidies can be used to pay for abortion coverage," said Rep. Stupak in a March 4 interview on National Public Radio (NPR).
Laura Parker goes on to say,...
...critics say it would be a colossal mistake to kill universal health care for an incremental victory on abortion. "The difference between the two bills is pretty thin," says Michael Sean Winters, a liberal Catholic author. "Doerflinger is so dug in, he's missing the point on the Senate bill, which is also pro-life."
Not to Doerflinger. His bottom line, he tells Parker:
If the bill attacks life itself, in our view, it's not health care reform.
Other people have different "bottom lines." What's yours? Do you see a provision in the proposals that you think is essential to see passed or defeated because of your faith or ethical point of view?