Archbp. Chaput on Obamacare: promoting abortion is not “common ground”

Archbp. Chaput has stepped up once again about the Obama Administrations proposals for "health care".  Here is the Archbishop’s column.

REMINDER: During his speech at the Notre Dame Debacle, President Obama referred repeatedly to "common ground".

My emphases and comments.

Health care and the common good

Last week a British Catholic journal, [aka The Tablet aka The Bitter Pill aka RU-486 aka Dissenting Weekly Artificially Propped Up By UK Bishops] in an editorial titled “U.S. bishops must back Obama,” claimed that America’s bishops “have so far concentrated on a specifically Catholic issue—making sure state-funded health care does not include abortion—rather than the more general principle of the common good.” 

It went on to say that if U.S. Catholic leaders would get over their parochial preoccupations, “they could play a central role in salvaging Mr. Obama’s health-care programme.”  [This is why we can now call The Tablet "RU-486".]

The editorial has value for several reasons.  First, it proves once again that people don’t need to actually live in the United States to have unhelpful and badly informed opinions about our domestic issues. [ZOT!]  Second, some of the same pious voices that once criticized U.S. Catholics for supporting a previous president now sound very much like acolytes of a new president.  Third, abortion is not, and has never been, a “specifically Catholic issue,” and the editors know it[Well done.  Abortion is a human issue, not a Catholic issue.]  And fourth, the growing misuse of Catholic “common ground” and “common good” language in the current health-care debate can only stem from one of two sources: ignorance or cynicism[The gloves are off!]

No system that allows or helps fund—no matter how subtly or indirectly—the killing of unborn children, or discrimination against the elderly and persons with special needs, can bill itself as “common ground.”   Doing so is a lie.

On the same day the British journal released its editorial, I got an e-mail from a young couple on the East Coast whose second child was born with Down syndrome.  The mother’s words deserve a wider audience:

Magdalena “consumes” a lot of health care. Every six months or so she’s tested for thyroid disease, celiac disease, anemia, etc. In addition, she’s been hospitalized a few times for smallish but surely expensive things like a clogged tear duct, feeding studies and pneumonia (twice). She sees an ENT regularly for congestion, she requires a doctor’s prescription for numerous services—occupational therapy, physical therapy, feeding, speech, etc.—and she needs more frequent ear and eye exams.  [Poor thing.]

I could go on. Often, she has some mysterious symptoms that require several tests or doctor visits to narrow down the list of possible issues. On paper, maybe these procedures and visits seem excessive. She is, after all, only 3 years old. We worry that more bureaucrats in the decision chain will increase the likelihood that someone, somewhere, will say, “Is all of this really necessary? After all, what is the marginal benefit to society for treating this person?”  [I think you know the answer.]

What do we think of the (Congressional and White House health-care) plans? A government option sounds dangerous to us.  The worst-case scenario revolves around someone in Washington making decisions about Magdalena’s health care; or, worse yet, a group of people—perhaps made up of the same types of people who urged us to abort her in the first place. [Gee… d’ya think?]  In general, we feel that policy decisions should be made as close as possible to the people who will be affected by them. [Subsidiarity.]  We are not wealthy people, but our current set up suits us just fine. We trust our pediatrician, who knows us very well, who hears from us personally every few months, who knows Magdalena and clearly sees her value, to give us good advice and recommend services in the appropriate amounts.

We are unsure and uneasy about how this might change. We worry that we, and Magdalena’s siblings, will somehow be cut out of the process down the line when her health issues are sure to pile up. I can’t forget that this is the same president (Obama) who made a distasteful joke about the Special Olympics. [Remember that?  POTUS was on Jay Leno’s show and, joking about his own bowling skills, compared himself to a participant in the Special Olympics.  When POTUS is not on his teleprompter, he reveals his true positions, his true way of thinking.  Just as with the "wee wee" commment, or when during the campaign he said that we need a civilian domestic security force….]  He apologized through a spokesman … (but) I truly believe that the people around him don’t know—or don’t care to know—the value and blessedness of a child with special needs. And I don’t trust them to mold policy that accounts for my daughter in all of her humanity or puts “value” on her life.  [Remember: President Obama viewed babies as a "punishment".  Remember that thing in Illinois about denying medical aid to a baby who survives an abortion attempt?  Remember that his science adviser John Holdren is a proponent of population control?  Including compulsory abortion?]

Of course, President Obama isn’t the first leader to make clumsy gaffes.  Anyone can make similar mistakes over the course of a career.  And the special needs community is as divided about proposed health-care reforms as everyone else. [True.  And it is also possible to take somethings, even sensitive issues close to us, a bit too seriously.  But the accumulative effect of the off hand remarks can nevertheless be revealing.]

Some might claim that the young mother quoted here has misread the intent and content of Washington’s plans.  That can be argued.  But what’s most striking about the young mother’s e-mail—and I believe warranted—is the parental distrust behind her words.  She’s already well acquainted, from direct experience, with how hard it is to deal with government-related programs and to secure public resources and services for her child.  In fact, I’ve heard from enough intelligent, worried parents of children with special needs here in Colorado to know that many feel the current health-care proposals pressed by Washington are troubling and untrustworthy.

Health-care reform is vital.  That’s why America’s bishops have supported it so vigorously for decades.  They still do.  But [here it is…] fast-tracking a flawed, complex effort this fall, in the face of so many growing and serious concerns, is bad policy.  It’s not only imprudent; it’s also dangerous.   As Sioux City’s Bishop R. Walker Nickless wrote last week, “no health-care reform is better than the wrong sort of health-care reform.

If Congress and the White House want to genuinely serve the health-care needs of the American public, they need to slow down, listen to people’s concerns more honestly—and learn what the “common good” really means.

Bishop R. Walker Nickless’ column can be found at


Kudos to Archbp. Chaput.

Folks, when you hear "common ground" language, pay very close attention to what is really being said.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TJM says:

    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Archbishop Chaput is one of the bright lights of the American Catholic. I hope all those faux Catholics who voted
    for Obama are happy with themselves. Tom

  2. DavidJ says:

    I hope they _aren’t_ happy with themselves, TJM.

    Also, kudos to the Archbishop!

  3. TJM says:

    DavidJ – I think they are called “useful idiots.” Tom

  4. Jack Hughes says:

    Chaput, Chaput Three cheers from the Pew !!!!! God must have had a particularly good day when he called this Capuchan :)

  5. Margaret says:

    One of the big reasons I voted McCain/Palin last fall, aside from abortion, was that I thought having the mother of a special needs child helping shape national policy could only be a good thing.

  6. FrCharles says:

    That’s my Capuchin brother!

  7. Thomas G. says:

    This is the correction from the hierarchy that I was looking for to address the bizarre assertion made by the Tablet that abortion is just a “specifically Catholic issue.”

    Would it have carried more weight if the correction had come from a British Bishop? I don’t know, perhaps.

  8. TJM says:

    I guess the Tablet isn’t Catholic. If it is within the power of the Archbishop of Westminster, I’d simply fire the editorial staff or shut it down. Tom

  9. Brady says:

    Isn’t the phrase “common good” something the Church came up with, or at least uses a lot? But I think the POTUS and rest of the crowd really mean the “Majority Good” (if that) when they talk about the common good. I thought common good is something that is good for EVERYONE.

  10. priest up north says:

    The term “common good” has indeed been highjacked. The USCCB seems to use the term frequently in their social statements. However, I remember last fall, a loon by the name of John Podesta (Center for American Progress) being interviewed on Fox News Sunday, constantly using this term, but from the elitist, anti-life perspective of most on the left. Thus, Brady, whether the Church came up with the term or not, certainly the pro-abort crowd, among others, are using this term (probably because their use of it is deceitful and not transparent, sort of like their whole agenda)…

  11. TomB says:

    In fact, I’ve heard from enough intelligent, worried parents of children with special needs here in Colorado to know that many feel the current health-care proposals pressed by Washington are troubling and untrustworthy.

    You can add me to that list. I truly fear for my daughter’s safety if health care is reformed as envisioned by the current government. 28 years ago the first question out of the doctor’s mouth was “what do you want to do about it” (the pregnancy)? I wanted to terminate the “doctor” about then.

    I have come to believe that improved health care is not their goal at all.

  12. irishgirl says:

    Would that every Bishop spoke up like this!

    Huzzah to the Archbishop!

Comments are closed.