Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A question about the New York Times Article

Like Michael Perry, I was intrigued by this morning's The New York Times article by David D. Kirkpatrick entitled "Catholic Group Supports Senate on Abortion Aid." Methinks the title of this NYT article is misleading. I read Mr. Kirkpatrick's report several times and then I reread the Catholic Health Association's [CHA] December 17 statement regarding the bill that a majority of the Senate passed on Christmas eve morning, December 24.

I am uncertain if the CHA has issued a more recent statement. I just rechecked it's website and the last statement is the December 17th one. If it did offer a subsequent statement, there is something requiring further study. But if the CHA did not issue any further public statement between December 17 and today, I find several of Mr. Kirkpatrick's assertions problematic.

This is what the CHA said on December 17:


The Catholic Health Association is pleased to learn of the work being done to improve the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009. As we understand it, the Senate intends to keep the President's commitment that no federal funds will pay for abortions and in addition, provide significant new support for pregnant women.

While we have yet to see the manager's amendment or Senator Robert Casey's final abortion amendment language, we are encouraged by recent deliberations and the outline Senator Casey is developing. It is our understanding that the language now being written would prohibit federal funding of abortion, ensure provider conscience protection and fund programs to provide supportive care to some of the most vulnerable pregnant women in our society.

Especially now that a public health insurance option is no longer on the table, we are increasingly confident that Senator Casey's language can achieve the objective of no federal funding for abortion. We urge Congress to continue its work toward the goal of health reform that protects life at all stages while expanding coverage to the greatest possible number of people in our country. We look forward to reviewing the final language these improvements contemplate.


Mr. Kirkpatrick asserts that the CHA has backed the Senate's compromise passed on December 24. If he were relying on the December 17th CHA statement, I fail to see the endorsement of something that was not completed until a week later. It appears that the CHA found encouragement in the deliberations regarding fundamental moral issues on December 17, but it did not endorse anything. If the CHA did offer a subsequent statement, I would be grateful to anyone who could direct me to it. 

RJA sj


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