December 8, 2009
On health care, the bishops have lost their way
By KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND | 12/8/09 4:56 AM EST
The Roman Catholic bishops need more time. That is the recent word from Sen. Ben Nelson — news reports noted that before he introduces his amendment to restrict women’s access to coverage under health care reform, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops needs more time to review it.
Why is it that the bishops are more concerned with restricting millions of American women from making health care decisions that are best for them and their families than they are with ensuring that millions of Americans — women, men, children, immigrants, the poor, the middle class — get much-needed health insurance?
As a Catholic, I dare say it’s because the Conference of Catholic Bishops has lost its way. For example, in Missouri, the Catholic Conference issued an e-mail alert urging “those who are opposed to health care reform but are also pro-life” to “stay focused on the abortion issue and get the Stupak-like amendment adopted in the Senate.”
Really? As Catholics, are we so laser focused on the issue of abortion that we are willing to join tea partiers and the like to bring down the health care reform bill? And at the enormous expense of millions of Americans who suffer every day because they can’t afford to get checkups, because they must choose bankruptcy in order to save the life of their loved one?
Not this Catholic. As someone who was raised by a family absolutely committed to public service and to making sure that our nation provides health care to the least among us, I am devastated that the bishops are using their influence to try not to increase access to health care for the millions of people who don’t have insurance. Where is their passion for the families who need health care?
I hope that members of the U.S. Senate will defeat Nelson’s amendment when it’s introduced and keep the health care reform efforts moving forward. There is already a carefully crafted, reasonable and abortion-neutral compromise in the Senate health care reform bill. It is neither pro-abortion rights nor anti-abortion. It is simply pro-health care. . . . (etc., etc., etc.)