What the USCCB sent congressional aides

I received this, forwarded from a congressional staffer

Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2010 11:15 AM
Subject: xxxxxxx Note From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on “Fixing” Abortion Funding Problems in the Senate Bill Through Executive Order—Not Possible.

Please find below a note from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on “fixing” abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order—not possible.

To: Congressional Aides

We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill. We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help members in assessing the options before them:

“One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion. Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”

Richard Doerflinger
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops



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  1. I am glad to see this bit of guidance offered by the USCCB. I hope it is taken to heart by those pro-life dems who are sincere and not just looking for cover.

    That said, the USCCB has failed us in general by anointing this reform package with the single condition that it keep the “status quo,” meaning the Hyde Amendment’s application. Consider, however, this from the Washington Post:

    “But this entire debate [over Stupak or Hyde type language in the bill] is ridiculous, because the feds already subsidize abortions massively, via the giant tax subsidy for employer-provided care. Today the feds devote at least $250 billion a year to subsidizing employer-based coverage, a subsidy that skews incentives horribly (but which big business and big labor wouldn’t let the politicians touch this year). A Guttmacher Institute study says that 87 percent of typical employer plans cover abortion, and a Kaiser study found that 46 percent of covered workers had abortion coverage.”


    In addition to this, at present, 17 Hyde-compliant states fund abortion with tax payer money. It is naive at best for the USCCB to take solace in Hyde especially given who they are dealing with here. Not only is Hyde no panacea for the pro-life movement, the USCCB position has ignored subsidiarity entirely. (Though I applaud my Archbisho Edwin O’Brien for doing so individually.)

    All appearances are that the Conference – the bureaucratic behemoth – is so intoxicated by the idea of a statist health care system that it is willing to ignore authentic Catholic social doctrine to see it happen.

  2. markomalley says:

    Here’s the funny part about it (funny as in strange not as in humorous)…

    In all cases of ventures partially funded by the government, walls like the Hyde Amendment really have no meaning. All the venture must do is shift around how all their funding is apportioned. For example:

    Let us use the example of a nonprofit that receives 75% of its funding from FEDGOV and 25% of its funding from private sources, to include individual donations and grants from foundations (like the Gates foundation or the Woods foundation).

    Let us say that 25% of their expenses are direct expenses involving abortion. that 25% can come from the private foundation, while the 75% from FEDGOV goes to support other direct expenses, along with indirect expenses.

    What is an “indirect expense,” you might ask? An example would be the rent paid on a “reproductive health clinic” and the salaries of the people who work there. How is that? If the people there have the ability to do GYN exams, prescribe contraception, and so on, then it is not “purely” an abortion facility.

    Likewise with insurance. The only part of this covered by such a law or an executive order would be how the “affordability credit” money is spent…it would have no impact on how the insurance company spends money received from premiums. And, in a perverse irony, the Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, could mandate that full reproductive health services (codeword for abortion) must be covered as an essential health benefit. That would be non-reviewable by Congress (at least, that’s how it was written originally).

    The only way to prevent your money going for abortion is for the law to state that no health plan participating in the Health Insurance Exchange may offer abortion as a benefit. Even the Stupak compromise last fall was a smokescreen.

  3. DisturbedMary says:

    Too late. Too late! TOO LATE! You lobby a “brood of vipers” and you deliver your people to wolves. I need a time out from our public Church.

  4. Oneros says:

    At this point, this sort of legal analysis is extremely contingent and prudential, not anything binding on Catholics at all. The executive order has been secured. I doubt the courts will overturn it forcing abortion coverage. I mean…they were worried the Supreme Court was going to overturn healthcare ENTIRELY if there was any funny business (ie “deem and pass”). I doubt the Roberts Supreme Court will overturn this executive order in FAVOR of abortion.

  5. EXCHIEF says:

    Stupak and his cohorts rolled over. An executive order, especially from one with a track record of dishonesty such as Obama, is practically meaningless. Even if abortion is not funded, which it will be probably before the ink on Obama’s signature is dry, there are a number of other moral ills in the so-called health care bill. It should have been opposed on all of those grounds not just the abortion issue.

  6. Papabile says:

    Oneros….. you are living in a fair land if you think this won’t cover abortions.

    I can’t wait to have these amendments offered. They will all be opposed by the Dems, because they know what the reports would me.

    1. Reporting requirement identifying how much money in toto was refunded by tax credit to low income citizens (not just taxpayers) who bought abortion coverage.

    2. Reporting requirement on how many abortions were required by health care plans that receive any government funds (because we all know money is fungible).

    3. Reporting requirement on the growth in plans that offer abortion coverage.

    4. Reporting requirement which mandates plans gather information by question when one leaves a plan. If they identify they are leaving because of abortion coverage, provide demographic totals.

    5. Reporting requirement on how many doses of misoprostil and mifepristone are distributed by plans that do not provide abortion coverage, yet receive government funds.

    6. Mandate that insurance companies only provide compensation to clinics that comply with state hospital codes for surgical procedures.

    In fact, I think I might start drafting stuff before this debate is even over. This will be a long-term fight now. And those who “got health care for 30 million uninsured” need to be remined that they are doing this on an ever expanding pile of infant corpses.

  7. mpm says:

    At this point, this sort of legal analysis is extremely contingent and prudential, not anything binding on Catholics at all.

    On the other hand, Catholics are obligated by our debt to the Truth, to listen to reason, whatever the source.

  8. DisturbedMary says:

    Get to Facebook and take a look at Dan Benishek – He’s a Republican running against Stupak…More Than 1,500 have joined his Facebook page today…
    More than 1,700 people have already joined Benishek’s Facebook page.

    Liberty First PAC has added Stupak to its target list, and Stupak is probably going to be on a lot of other lists pretty soon.

  9. wanda says:

    Executive Order is worth no more than a kleenex one blows their nose into and tosses away.

  10. PAT says:

    The legal opinions regarding the Executive Order are uniformly that no EO can modify legislation passed by the House and/or Senate. That EO from Obama isn’t worth the paper it’s written on (not that it would have been in any case, with Obama having promised it). Stupak knows that. He’s certainly been told that any number of times, including by none other than his liberal Democrat colleague, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. So, he knows it. Plus, the bishops have already stated that the EO route is a non-starter.

    This is nothing more than a fig leaf for Stupak to vote “yes” on the bill. As Rep. Pence told him, he has sacrificed 30 years of pro-life legislation for a promise from the most pro-abortion president in history (and the biggest liar).

    On a side note, I was at the protest today. There were a number of people carrying signs that said, “Catholic Supporting Health Care Reform.” I challenged one of the young girls carrying a sign and told her that Catholics don’t support abortion. She said, “Oh, I’m not Catholic. I’m just carrying the sign.” They have absolutely no scruples.

  11. doanli says:

    My parish priest read the letter from our bishop explaining why the opposition to the HCF bill and extorting us to call, email, and above all pray for our Congress critters that this bill, in its current form allowing federal tax money to pay for induced abortions without a conscience clause in it, fail.

    It’s not looking good now the last time I check and I have to remind myself to breathe in slowly and remember God is still, and ALWAYS, in charge and aware.

  12. Papabile says:

    That’s all she wrote…. welcome to government funded abortions… 219-212.

  13. EXCHIEF says:

    Stupak and his fellow travelers are democrats first and pro life for appearance sake only. I agree that we now have the party of death (majority) and the party of life (minority). With the number of “catholics” who voted for this travesty we have to a degree only the Church heirarchy in this country to blame. Too little, too late, and no sanctions againsts merchants of death such a Pelosi. The Bishops keep playing the mr nice guy approach and as a result they and the Church they are supposed to lead get their butts kicked over and over and over again. They have so polluted their minds with social justice crap which is the selling point (false selling point) of the democrat party that they cannot see what that party has become. I’m willing to bet most Bishops remain members of the party of death in spite of all the immoral things that party advocates. Disgusting.

  14. wanda says:

    It is truly disgusting. Bart Stupak was the hope of every Pro-Life group you can name. They must all be truly heart-broken tonight, as are 70% of Americans who did not want tax-payer funding, or other ‘gimmick’ funding of abortion. After a year or more of fighting, writing, emailing, petitioning, calling..it has come down to this ultimate punch in the guts. The Democratic Party is the Party of death, in case anyone had any doubts.

  15. Tom Ryan says:

    Said Phyllis Schafly: “Mr. Stupak and his Democrat followers have now clarified that you cannot be pro-life and be a Democrat. If abortion was truly their biggest issue, they wouldn’t willfully align themselves with the Party of Death.

    “This vote will expose the myth of the ‘pro-life Democrat’. With this single vote, the Democratic Party will divide our nation into the Party of Death and the Party of Life, and future elections will never be the same.”

  16. bookworm says:

    I agree, the Democrats proved themselves to be the Party of Death in this case. The ONLY way to get pro-life concerns taken seriously at this point is to vote against ALL Democrats in the next several election cycles, from Congressmen and governors down to dogcatchers.

    But that being said… let’s not rush into the trap of thinking that the Republican Party is now our savior and can do no wrong.

    Yes, they will surely do better than Obama and his minions have. I hope they take over BOTH houses of Congress this fall and I hope Obama is a one-term president.

    But when the GOP gets back in control of all branches of government, mark my words, they will eventually mess up, and get fat, happy and complacent and corrupt. (I vote Republican 99 percent of the time, by the way, but I realize they are just as subject to original sin as anyone else. After all, I live in Illinois. Google “Gov. George Ryan” or “Illinois Combine” if you need any further explanation.)

    They will eventually break our hearts just as Bart Stupak broke the hearts of pro-life Dems. Then everyone will vote the GOP out and the whole cycle will start over again. Lather, vote, rinse, repeat.

    As important as political action is, let’s not make the mistake the Jews of Christ’s time did of expecting a political savior who would kick Roman butt and let them live happily ever after in the Promised Land.

    Politics exists to make life better in this world, and that’s a worthy goal, but our mission as Catholics is and always will be to make people’s lives better in the eternal world.

  17. everett says:

    I second bookworm’s comment regarding not getting caught up in the trap that the Republican party is the solution to the problem. Many/most republicans are only marginally better than the so called “pro-life democrats” who caved (kudos to the few who didn’t).

Comments are closed.