3 Days To Go: The Catholic Church Is Ruining My Christmas List!

Sorry we’ve been MIA for the past week. That’s my fault. Traveling, book-writing, and the holidays have oligopolized my schedule. But we’re back now, and skipping quite a few days forward, we continue our Christmas countdown with this sure-to-be-provocative post from our resident political analyst, Sarah Kashubski. — AWO

by Sarah Kashubski

What’s on my Christmas List this year? Well, a public option in health care for one, but even more important is a health care bill that wouldn’t stomp all over women’s rights. The outlook for either of these wishes isn’t good, but it’s even worse for women’s rights; in fact, the nail seems to be in coffin for that one. Unfortunately, even during this joyous and holy time of year, it seems to be the Catholic Church that’s ruining my Christmas.  

I was born Catholic and remain so, but I am vehemently pro-choice. I understand why the Catholic Church is so opposed to abortion, but I believe that that is for them to condemn privately to the people who will listen and let the women outside the church do with their bodies what is right for them. That’s why I find it so disturbing that the Church is using abortion to hinder not only health care reform, but women’s rights, as well.

The amendment that was inserted into the House bill at the final hour would prohibit federal money used for insurance subsidies to be spent on elective abortions. Why does this matter? The New York Times said it best: “Abortion rights advocates charged Sunday that the provision threatened to deprive women of abortion coverage because insurers would drop the procedure from their plans in order to sell them in the newly expanded market of people receiving subsidies.” Women would then be forced to pay for the procedure out of their own pocket.

I’m not the only one who has noticed the Church’s frighteningly long reach into our legislative process; people on both sides of the abortion debate have (notably Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood and Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights). It’s not just that one bishop called up Speaker Pelosi and said, “Hey, we don’t want federal money paying for abortions,” and she scurried along and followed their orders. Not only did bishops personally call many Democrats in the House, expressing their disapproval, but they also helped shape the language of the amendment.

Now, the Senate has also included an abortion amendment (this time, though, not to appease the Catholic Church, but to win over Sen. Nelson so that they can have a filibuster-proof majority). The amendment reads that a “state may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an exchange in such state if such state enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.” I guess, in the spirit of Christmas, all there is to do now is hope. And call and email your congressman or woman, of course.

I suppose I won’t get everything on my Christmas Wish List this year, but at least it seems that the House is prepared to fight the Senate on the public option. Maybe it won’t be such a dismal Christmas for health care after all.