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

Healthcare Reform, Abortion, and (Divided) Catholics: The Plot Thickens

NYT, December 26, 2009

Catholic Group Supports Senate on Abortion Aid

WASHINGTON — In an apparent split with Roman Catholic bishops over the abortion-financing provisions of the proposed health care overhaul, the nation’s Catholic hospitals have signaled that they back the Senate’s compromise on the issue, raising hopes of breaking an impasse in Congress and stirring controversy within the church.

The Senate bill, approved Thursday morning, allows any state to bar the use of federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion and requires insurers in other states to divide subsidy money into separate accounts so that only dollars from private premiums would be used to pay for abortions.

Just days before the bill passed, the Catholic Health Association, which represents hundreds of Catholic hospitals across the country, said in a statement that it was “encouraged” and “increasingly confident” that such a compromise “can achieve the objective of no federal funding for abortion.” An umbrella group for nuns [i.e., the Leadership Conference of Women Religious] followed its lead.

The same day, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called the proposed compromise “morally unacceptable." . . .

Catholic scholars say their statement reflects a different application of church teachings against “cooperation with evil,” a calculus that the legislation offers a way to extend health insurance to millions of Americans. For the Catholic hospitals, that it is both a moral and financial imperative, since like other hospitals they stand to gain from reducing the number of uninsured patients. . . .

“We have known for quite some time that the Catholic hospitals and also the nuns are really breaking from these hard-line bishops and saying, ‘This really is our goal: to get more people into health care coverage,’ ” said Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado. . . .

Like most Catholic groups, the Catholic Hospital Association has echoed the bishops’ opposition to any federal financing of abortion in health care proposals. But its officials also stood at the White House last spring to endorse Mr. Obama’s plans as part of an administration deal with the hospital industry. . . .

Catholic ethics experts said the groups evidently disagree about how far to go in avoiding even remote complicity in abortion.

“The Catholic Health Association seems to be using traditional principles of cooperation with evil,” said Prof. M. Cathleen Kaveny of the Notre Dame University Law School.

Such principles, she said, could permit support for “imperfect legislation,” as long as one’s intent was not to “further abortion,” one made every effort to “minimize the harm,” and one achieved “an extremely important good that can’t be achieved any other way.”

In contrast, she said, “some bishops have adopted a prophetic stand against abortion that wants to eliminate any form of cooperation with evil no matter how remote.”

[The complete article is here.]

https://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2009/12/healthcare-reform-abortion-and-divided-catholics-the-plot-thickens.html

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