Showing posts with label Bart Stupak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bart Stupak. Show all posts

Monday, March 29, 2010

The God's Own Party line

Life on the Rock is a Thursday-night program on EWTN targeted at Catholic youth and young adults.

And when, last Thursday, the topic turned toward what had happened the previous Sunday with final passage of health-care reform, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to wonder whether the program was aimed more at ginning up support for Republican politicians.

That and bashing pro-life Catholic politicians -- OK, one Catholic congressman in particular -- whose political conscience didn't line up with the bishops' entreaties to "kill the bill."

AS THEY SAY, out of the mouths of babes. . . .
FR. MARK MARY: And tonight we're joined by Jill Sanders, our producer here on Life on the Rock, she does a great job, works very hard every week -- tries to keep Doug and I on the bean, so to speak. And Jill . . . we have her on up with us because she did something special the last couple of days.

Where were you last night, Jill?

JILL SANDERS: Well, last night I was in Washington, D.C., at the Willard Hotel -- which is a very fancy, beautiful hotel – for the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Gala.

DOUG BARRY: Is that hotel nicer than a Holiday Inn Express or. . . .

JILL SANDERS: It's a little bit nicer than a Holiday Inn Express. It's a beautiful hotel.

And at this gala, I was the recipient of the Susan B. Anthony Young Leader Award, along with four other pro-life young women.

BARRY, FR. MARY: (Clapping) Woo hoo!

DOUG BARRY: And why is this award given out?

JILL SANDERS: It's for young women who are pro-life leaders in the community, trying to mobilize more young women to get active in conservative politics.

DOUG BARRY: Well, you've done so much on so many levels, but one of the key things I can speak to is all the work that you do to provide Father Mark and me, I mean the guests that have been on the show that you arrange, you set things up – a lot of people don't realize just how much work goes on behind the scenes with the producer unless they're around it or involved in it.

All the information, all the E-mails I get from you throughout the week, getting ready for a show, the research – you're directing me to different places to learn about the guests that are coming up, and I can say you do an outstanding job. Across the board, but especially in the pro-life area, so congratulations. You definitely deserve this.

JILL SANDERS: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much – thank you, I appreciate that.

FR. MARK MARY: This was the Susan B. Anthony List, we had a few of them on the show. . . .

JILL SANDERS: They were on last fall.



FR. MARK MARY: And they promote women's involvement in the pro-life movement?


FR. MARK MARY: And this was a Campaign for Life Gala. Can you tell us about the spirit in the room, just days after this health-care bill passed . . . what was it like there?

JILL SANDERS: Well, this is a tragic time in our country. Federal funding for abortion is the biggest blow to the pro-life movement since Roe v. Wade. In that room last night, there was a spirit of determination and of optimism and of hope.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann gave one of the speeches, and in it she kept saying
"We may have lost this battle but we will not lose this war. We may have lost this battle but we will not lose this war."

And I think what an inspiring thing for us to remember as we go into Holy Week, that as Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, He felt the pain of our sin – He felt the pain of the sin of abortion. You know what? But the story doesn't end there, because on the third day, He rose again, and He conquered death, and He won the victory for us.

And He will win the victory over abortion in our country as well.

FR. MARK MARY: All right. . . . So what would you say for people out there, what could they do for the pro-life cause?

JILL SANDERS: Well, I think what's great about the country that we live in is that we have the ability to change in our country. First of all, if you are a young pro-life woman who has aspirations to go into politics, visit the Susan B. Anthony List website, see how you can get involved. Their website is, so go to their website.

If you're a priest, preach the truth from the pulpit. If you're a father, if you're a mother, teach the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death to your children. Write letters to your congressman. Talk to your friends and family. Vote for pro-life leaders – get behind pro-life leaders, support them.

But most importantly, every day, brothers and sisters, we need to hit our knees and pray for an end to abortion.

DOUG BARRY: You're absolutely right; pray for the leadership. We've got situations like what happened with Congressman Stupak out there, which was a real blow to people, because he was supposed to be honored at this event as well, and Susan B. Anthony List -- very quickly when that turned – made it very clear publicly they were revoking that honor, that award they were going to give him. They felt like a real betrayal.

Was that spirit in the air last night as well?

JILL SANDERS: I think there was great disappointment in him. You know, we kind of depended on him to keep this bill from being passed, and when he turned on us, it was a sense of betrayal, you know? You're one of us, how could you do this? How could you turn your back on us?

FR. MARK MARY: I think there has been a lot of talk about what has happened, and we're not experts here – you know, we can't analyze policy so much, but the bishops have made statements about how this executive order by the president is not sufficient in this new health-care bill to protect life. And they've issued a couple of statem. . . .

DOUG BARRY: I'm sorry, but to jump in real quick for the people who may not be aware of what you mean by the executive order . . . for those who aren't keeping up on this at all, the reason Congressman Stupak turned and said he would vote for this was primarily because of this executive order that President Obama said he would sign to limit federal funding and such and so forth.

And he compared it to something as powerful as Abraham Lincoln's, you know, uh, uh, a couple of other points in the past . . . I'm not going to go into detail on that. But the point here is that the bishops do not see this as being sufficient, even though the congressman has said that it is.

So for people out there wondering why Stupak would turn in and all of a sudden vote for this, because of what President Obama said he would sign as an executive order defending life but, as you're about to say and make very clear, the bishops do not feel, feel this is good enough.

FR. MARK MARY: Right, Fr. Richard Doerflinger from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, you know, he issued a statement in the name of the bishops saying only a change in the law enacted by Congress – not an executive order – can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.

My understanding is in the executive order, you know, it can fill in holes in the law but, you know, if it's not in the law, it can't put into law what's not already in the law. And the bishops made a statement . . . they said they applaud the effort for health-care reform – you know, the church herself doesn't canonize a certain economic policy or instruct how government should function or run, but they applaud the effort, you know, that everybody has health care, but it says nevertheless -- the U.S. bishops said “nevertheless, whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion.

“The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions.”

So, they say here that the Catholic bishops have opposed this passage of the bill, you know, as it stands with this funding in it. And the funding will make a huge difference – you're giving money that makes it easily accessible, available for people, the number of abortions to go up . . . you know, human life is. . . .

DOUG BARRY: Well, what it also does is -- you know, Jill, maybe you can comment on this – is this now forces taxpayers to a higher degree to be cooperating against our will, if we don't want to, with our tax dollars, the government can now use this to expand federal funding of abortions out there. I mean, did this come up at all – anything of this nature last night at this event?

JILL SANDERS: Right. Well how unfair that something we are so diabolically opposed to can be forced upon us. [Emphasis mine -- R21]

DOUG BARRY: All right. And that's a big part of it. And I noticed that is something the bishops had mentioned before the final vote on Sunday had come down, was they were saying that this does not provide protection of the conscience for those who clearly – even medical professionals, those people who are in the medical field – you know, the concern of them being forced into . . . to having to cooperate with abortion and with procedures that that involve this whole, this whole horrible act.

Um, you know, the threat of shutting down hospitals, of shutting down Catholic medical, uh, you know clinics and facilities due to this kind of government forcing. And you know, ladies and gentlemen, this kind of battle is going to keep going on. So, as Jill mentioned earlier, we've got to be on our knees, we've gotta be praying, we gotta be writing letters – we've gotta be a force to reckon with.

And, uhhhh, as Catholics, we're talkin' over 60 million in this country. Come on! We gotta wake up! Sleeping giant, let's go!
YES, SHE really did say "diabolically opposed."

As in . . . the devil, diabolically opposed to a "culture of life," took it upon himself to prompt the pro-life movement to climb in bed with mere politicians, then place all of their hope and faith in them. Took it upon himself to tempt professional pro-lifers --
and their useful idiots in Christian broadcasting -- to become uncritical touts for some of the wackiest, angriest and most divisive pols in recent history.

Like the Susan B. Anthony List's having Sarah "Tea Party" Palin keynote its Celebration of Life Breakfast in May. Everyone will be eating Froot Loops, no doubt.

THINK ABOUT IT. Would anybody but Satan think it a good idea for the pro-life movement to hitch up Michele Bachmann's nutwagon? Or greet poor Bart Stupak with the same sort of warm fuzzies Josef Stalin radiated toward Leon Trotsky?

Was the Susan B. Anthony List's now-withdrawn "major award" to Stupak, a Democrat, really predicated on his devotion to pro-life values, or was it more incumbent on the damage his pro-life values inflicted on his own political party? Today, "betrayal" is just political "heroism" misdirected toward you, right?

Day by day, in every way, those more than 60 million "sleeping giant" Catholics in this country are left wondering whether the "pro-life movement" is more about "pro-life" or more about being "active in conservative politics."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pro-life through the funhouse mirror

I, apparently, am the face of pro-choice America.

Me and Bart Stupak, congressman from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We've been written right out of the ranks of pro-life Americans by Republicans, members of a party that stood strong by a president who thought it perfectly fine to honor the human dignity of "enemy combatants" through life-affirming torture sessions.

We've been condemned to pro-abortion hell by none other than Phyllis Schlafly, who said the House's final passage of health-care reform "clarified that you cannot be pro-life and be a Democrat."

One GOP congressman put an exclamation point on Stupak's pro-life excommunication by yelling
"Baby killer!" at the Democrat on the House floor. It's a pity the marathon House session didn't run just a little longer, so that anonymous Republican could have gone for the tea-party hat trick by calling Barney Frank the F-word and John Lewis the N-word.


Because that's the patriotic, all-American and pro-life thing to do, apparently.

IT DOESN'T matter to the tea partiers, or to the Republican caucus, or to the nation's Catholic bishops that virtually every expert out there (except for their own) said the Senate health-care bill -- which the House was voting to ratify and send to President Obama for his signature -- was no pro-abortion document.

An interview with a law professor -- Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee -- by NPR's Robert Siegel on All Things Considered last week
was particularly informative:
SIEGEL: And first, is the Senate bill more tolerant of abortion and federal spending on abortion than the House bill is?

Prof. JOST:
No, it is not.

In the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement against the Senate bill, Cardinal Francis George wrote this: The Senate bill deliberately excludes the language of the Hyde Amendment. It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures.

You would say that's not true?

Prof. JOST:
That is not true. The bill explicitly cross-references the Hyde Amendment at a couple of different places. One is, it provides that no federal funding for the new premium subsidies or cost-sharing reduction subsidies - the money that's going to go help people buy health insurance - that none of that money can be used to pay for abortions.

And secondly, it provides that the conscience protections, and the protections against discrimination against providers who are unwilling to provide or pay for abortion - is also preserved under the Senate bill.


SIEGEL: You've studied both the House and the Senate bill.

Prof. JOST: Mm-hmm.

SIEGEL: How would you characterize both of them - on a crude spectrum, from pro-choice to pro-life? How do these bills look to you?

Prof. JOST:
I think they are both basically pro-life bills. I think they are bills that - the Senate bill has some provisions that are stronger than the House. Senate bill, for example, provides $250 million to provide support for pregnant and parenting women who want to bear and keep a child. That's not in the House bill. So there are some provisions in the Senate bill that are stronger than the House.

The bishops prefer the approach that the House bill uses to the provisions of the Senate bill. But they're basically equivalent. Both bills prohibit federal funding for abortions through the premium subsidies. And as a practical matter, both of them are going to make it more difficult to get abortion coverage through an insurance policy. That is true under the status quo.

SIEGEL: Professor Jost, you've been studying health law for quite a while. Is there something about these bills that is especially confusing or opaque that would lead to these very different interpretations, whether one is much more pro-life than the other? Or are people just being tendentious in their readings of these two bills?

Prof. JOST: I think people are being distrustful in their reading. I think that there's a tendency to sort of assume the devious motives on the parts of others, you know - which may, in part, be justified. This has been a pretty intense debate in our country.

But I think in this case, it is just not justified, that - I think that the senators who drafted these amendments are pro-life senators who intended to make sure that federal funding doesn't go for abortion. And so I think that there's sort of an unwarranted belief that people are proceeding in bad faith when in fact, they're proceeding in the best of good faith and trying to achieve the same goals.
AND THUS Stupak and his tiny band of pro-life (er . . . baby killing?) House Democrats sought refuge in the cover of a presidential executive order reaffirming what already was plain in the Senate language. That Obama even would compromise that much infuriated pro-choice advocacy groups.

Unfortunately for Democrat pro-lifers, it seems there is no cover from zealots eager to excommunicate from the pro-life movement anyone deemed less pure -- or less right-wing -- than themselves. Pity poor Bart Stupak, for there most certainly is no cover from wild-eyed Republicans' verbal brickbats in the "people's house."

He's not a Catholic lawmaker acting in good faith as he exercises his prudential judgment on legislation that's as pro-life as he has the power to make it -- a bill most "experts" say is pretty pro-life indeed.

No, Bart Stupak is a "baby killer." A traitor. An ex-pro-lifer.

Someone, in the words of Schlafly, who "
will be forever remembered as being among the deciding votes which facilitated the largest expansion of abortion services since Roe v. Wade."

IT MATTERS not a whit that any of this is only true in the peculiarly peculiar alternate universe inhabited by the Republican Party and their useful -- and angry -- idiots in professional pro-liferism. Ask Ben Nelson; he got the Stupak treatment before Stupak got the Stupak treatment.

When you so sell your political soul down that particular River of Denial, it's easy to equate "pro-life" with a party willing to see 47 million (and climbing) Americans subsist with no health insurance at all. It's no big whoop to equate saving lives with maintaining the status-quo probability of losing everything if you get sick enough.

In the funhouse-mirror world of professional, political pro-liferism -- or perhaps the better term is "anti-abortionism" -- it's far better to maintain a system where it's a lot cheaper for low-income, uninsured women to get an abortion than it is for them to get prenatal care. See "Nebraska, State of" and "Heineman (R-Neb.), Gov. Dave."

Anti-abortionism is good with all that, just so long as it keeps civil society unsullied by health-care reform legislation that's merely "pretty good, considering" from a pro-life perspective instead of the New Jerusalem come down to earth. Yesterday.

The tyranny of dying for lack of decent health care -- the tyranny of money being, in too many cases, the final arbiter between living and dying if you're sick in America -- is really the preservation of liberty . . . or so we're told by the voices coming from the funhouse. Tyranny is only tyranny if it's the tyranny of "socialized medicine."

Elder care is "death panels," prenatal care is an abortion waiting to happen, fundamentally pro-life legislation is "
the largest expansion of abortion services since Roe v. Wade"
. . . and Bart Stupak is a "baby killer."

THESE VOICES -- the ones from the funhouse . . . the ones in the heads of those deep inside political pro-liferism -- come up with the damnedest things indeed. Like this:
George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, will be the featured speaker at the 27th annual Life Centers Celebration of Life fund-raiser in Indianapolis. President Bush will join special musical guest, Grammy Award-winning artist Sandi Patty, and 2009 Miss America Katie Stam at Conseco Fieldhouse on Thursday, April 15 at 7pm.

"We are honored to welcome President George W. Bush, whose strong record on life issues demonstrates his belief that every life matters," Brian Boone, Life Centers president and CEO, said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate life - with a keynote address from a public servant who made the sanctity of human life a priority."

The proceeds from the event will benefit Life Centers, a nonprofit Christian ministry which helps women in unplanned pregnancies by providing free services including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, confidential peer counseling, 24-hour help line calls, post-abortion and maternity support at its eight pregnancy resource centers across Central Indiana.

"We are grateful that President George W. Bush will inspire our community to create a culture of life at the crossroads of America and to show compassion to women in unplanned pregnancies," Boone said.
THE GEORGE W. BUSH who approved federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. The George W. Bush of waterboarding fame. The George W. Bush who went to war in Iraq for, as it turns out, no discernible reason other than to "get" Saddam Hussein and to "establish freedom."

The George W. Bush of torture at Abu Ghraib, torture at secret CIA prisons and torture at Guantanamo.

The pro-life movement -- or, more precisely, the political operatives and conservative ideologues who've hijacked the pro-life movement -- say Bart Stupak is a baby killer and that neither of us are real pro-life Catholics.

To be authentically "pro-life" is to take marching orders from one bunch to whom George Bush is a hero?

To be a real pro-life Catholic is to treat as holy writ the political judgments of a "hapless bench of bishops"
ostensibly capable of deciphering the pro-life bona fides of health-care policy but decidedly less facile at keeping pervy priests from diddling little boys? I'll declare unyielding fealty to Catholic bishops' take on health-care reform when they take responsibility for their own complicity in perpetuating the moral horror of sexual abuse in the church.


GO AHEAD, "pro-life" movement. Excommunicate me, and Bart Stupak, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, and every other "formerly pro-life Democrat" for thinking that the health-care reform proposal ratified by the House was "good enough for government work."

We'll see you in hell.