Life Advocacy Briefing

September 21, 2009

The Other Shoe Drops / Opportunity for Input / Silenced? / Double Jeopardy / Quotable / Troubling Expectations / The ‘Healthcare Reform’ Proposals are Not a Moral Response

The Other Shoe Drops

THE LONG-AWAITED ‘BAUCUS’ BILL to massively change America’s healthcare system was unveiled last Wednesday by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) – without the GOP backing he had hoped for. It will be considered by the Senate panel tomorrow, Tuesday, in a 9 a.m. meeting.

Unlike its competing proposals, the Baucus proposal does not provide for direct takeover of the medical system by the government, the so-called “public option” which Pres. Obama and leftwing Members of the House and Senate have demanded, according to a key aide on Capitol Hill. But it does authorize $6 billion in taxpayer funding to establish “health insurance cooperatives,” and those coops would be permitted to underwrite abortions, notes the aide. Further, “abortions permitted under the Hyde Amendment” governing Medicaid – those deemed by the abortionist necessary to save the life of the mother or motivated by the circumstances of the baby’s conception pursuant to a sex crime – could be mandated, the aide told us, “in the minimum benefits package.”

It does get complicated, but we’ll quote the aide, confident that you will get the drift: “Contrary to the current federal practice of not subsidizing plans that cover abortion,” writes the aide, “the Baucus bill [would] allow refundable, advanceable tax credits and cost-sharing credits to be applied to plans that pay for abortion, provided an accounting gimmick is employed to label the funds used to pay for abortion as private premium dollars. To achieve this accounting requirement,” the aide continues, “plans that cover abortion will collect a mandatory abortion surcharge from each premium payer as a part of each subsidized premium payment.” Bottom line: Abortion must be explicitly excluded and conscience rights protected. The bill as outlined by Sen. Baucus does not meet these criteria.

Members of the Finance Committee are: Chairman Baucus and Democratic Senators Blanche Lincoln (AR), Thomas Carper (DE), Bill Nelson (FL), John Kerry (MA), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Robert Menendez (NJ), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Charles Schumer (NY), Kent Conrad (ND), Ron Wyden (OR), Maria Cantwell (WA) and John Rockefeller (WV).

Also, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley (IA – Ranking Member), Jon Kyl (AZ), Mike Crapo (ID), Pat Roberts (KS), Jim Bunning (KY), Olympia Snowe (ME), John Ensign (NV), John Cornyn (TX), Orrin Hatch (UT) and Mike Enzi (WY).

Call panel Senators via Capitol switchboard: 1-202/224-3121; e-mail via


Opportunity for Input

AN INTERNET WEBSITE HAS BEEN LAUNCHED by a coalition organized by the Christian Medical Assn. “to protect patients by defending the conscience rights of their healthcare professionals and students.”

The website offers an opportunity for both medical professionals and patients to send a message to Pres. Obama “to prevent patients’ loss of access to conscientious and compassionate medical professionals and also to prevent mandated taxpayer-funded abortion” in proposals to alter our medical care system.

“Healthcare professionals who follow longstanding ethical, moral and religious standards,” notes the website text, “have been systematically fired, threatened with job loss, denied promotions and coerced. Medical residents have been denied training opportunities and prospective medical students have been denied admissions to medical school. Yet Pres. Obama’s administration,” says the website, “has announced his plan to rescind – get rid of – the only regulation that implements laws protecting persecuted professionals.

“And now some in Congress are planning to have the federal government fund abortions. Unless healthcare ‘reform’ bills like HR-3200 are amended,” warns the website, to explicitly exclude abortion, abortion coverage will be mandated. If abortion is mandated and Life-affirming medical professionals and institutions are forced out of medicine,” the website adds, “the millions of patients they serve – many in low-income and rural areas – will be left without the caregivers these patients depend upon. Will you make your voice heard to stop this?”

The website is located on the Internet at



KNOWN AS ‘THE SIGN GUY’ around his Lansing-area town of Owosso, Michigan, 63-year-old Jim Pouillon was doing, the morning of Sept. 11, what he most loved to do – warning high school students about abortion and urging them to choose Life.

In his activism for the cause of Life, Mr. Pouillon was gunned down. The alleged assailant apparently told police, upon his arrest, that he found Mr. Pouillon’s signs offensive. No doubt he also found Mr. Pouillon defenseless, as the retired gentleman wore leg braces and hauled around an oxygen tank. His daughter was nearby, also engaged in witnessing for Life; his granddaughter was inside the high school across the street.

May his memory touch those who most need his message, and may his sacrificial example move others to take up his signs.


Double Jeopardy

ANOTHER FORMER WORKER AT LeROY CARHART’s ABORTUARY has come forward to complain of unsafe conditions at the Bellevue, Nebraska, shop.

The former Carhart employee “told Operation Rescue,” reports, “that she had no medical background but routinely assisted with surgeries, started IVs and dispensed medication without the proper credentials. She also indicated,” reports LifeSite, “that she believed that [Abortionist] Carhart was, at times, chemically impaired while on duty.”

She is the sixth former worker to come forward and the fourth to swear to her complaints in an affidavit; the first three affidavits are reportedly being followed up by the Nebraska attorney general, and this affidavit will also be submitted to that office, Operation Rescue assured.

“‘The picture these women paint of day-to-day activities at [Mr.] Carhart’s abortion clinic is not a pretty one,’” said Operation Rescue chief Troy Newman in the LifeSite story. “‘Each day that goes by is another day when women’s lives and health are placed at grave risk. Immediate action is needed,’” he said, “‘to ensure that the public is protected from illegal and unsafe practices that these women say are taking place at [Mr.] Carhart’s abortion clinic.’”



Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Doran, in an Aug. 7, 2009, commentary published in The Observer, publication of the Rockford, Illinois, diocese: “Modern socialist governments like to control not food but the means to protect and extend life. Some have called the current efforts of our federal government ‘seniorcide’ or ‘infanticide.’ That perhaps is too severe, but we … should take care that healthcare [policy] does not morph into life control.”


Troubling Expectations

Sept. 15, 2009, commentary by Bradley Mattes, executive director, Life Issues Institute

Sarah Capewell’s son is dead because of Britain’s nationalized healthcare system. Little Jayden was born premature at 21 weeks and 5 days after conception. If Jayden had been born just two days later, doctors would have worked to save his life. But the cut-off age for a premature baby under Britain’s National Health Service rationing guideline is 22 weeks.

Forty-eight hours denied Jayden the lifesaving health care that he needed to live. Even without it, he breathed on his own for two hours – a sure sign Jayden was a fighter. In spite of Sarah’s pleas with doctors to save his life, they refused to offer even the most remedial care. They told Sarah that before 22 weeks gestation, Jayden was only a fetus and had no human rights.

This and worse is what we can expect if Pres. Obama successfully imposes government-controlled health care on American citizens. From the very first day, such a system would be desperate for money to keep it afloat. [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi told reporters that half the bill “will be paid for by squeezing excesses out of the system.” This means the rationing of health care – denying basic medical treatment to our most vulnerable citizens – would become commonplace. You and I can’t let that happen.

Contrary to the President’s claims the other night before Congress, abortion-on-demand would be funded and facilitated by his proposed plan. And the Capps amendment is nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up abortion funding. … Unless it’s specifically prohibited, abortion would be incorporated as mainstream health care. If so, the number of abortions would skyrocket – an added death toll to those who succumb because of rationed care.

From a pro-life viewpoint, government-controlled health care is a blueprint for death and disaster. So now is the time to let your Members of the Senate and House of Representatives know you oppose any plan that facilitates abortion or rationing. …

The President and pro-abortion leaders in Congress are pulling out all the stops. Our only hope is to mobilize pro-life citizens in a massive effort to contact their elected officials. [Capitol switchboard: 1-202/224-3121; e-mail via or]


The ‘Healthcare Reform’ Proposals are Not a Moral Response

Letter to his flock from the Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless, Roman Catholic Bishop of Sioux City

The current national debate about healthcare reform should concern all of us. There is much at stake in this political struggle, and also much confusion and inaccurate information being thrown around. My brother bishops have described some clear “goal-posts” to mark out what is acceptable reform and what must be rejected. First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage – public or private – for abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stemcell research. We refuse to be made complicit in these evils, which frankly contradict what “health care” should mean. We refuse to allow our own parish, school and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils. As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and healthcare providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the healthcare system we now have.

Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. The “natural right” of health care is the divine bounty of food, water and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity and compassion. As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under “prudential judgment.”

Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care. Unlike a prudential concern like national defense, for which government monopolization is objectively good – it both limits violence overall and prevents the obvious abuses to which private armies are susceptible – health care should not be subject to federal monopolization. Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a healthcare monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined “best procedures,” which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses. Therefore any legislation that undermines the viability of the private sector is suspect. Private, religious hospitals and nursing homes, in particular, should be protected, because these are the ones most vigorously offering actual health care to the poorest of the poor.

The best way in practice to approach this balance of public and private roles is to spread the risks and costs of health care over the largest number of people. This is the principle underlying Medicaid and Medicare taxes, for example. But this principle assumes that the pool of taxable workers is sufficiently large, compared to those who draw the benefits, to be reasonably inexpensive and just. This assumption is at root a pro-life assumption! Indeed, we were a culture of Life when such programs began. Only if we again foster a culture of Life can we perpetuate the economic justice of taxing workers to pay health care for the poor. Without a growing population of youth, our growing population of retirees is outstripping our distribution systems. In a culture of death such as we have now, taxation to redistribute costs of medical care becomes both unjust and unsustainable.

Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. The gift of life comes only from God; to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong. The most effective preventative care for most people is essentially free – good diet, moderate exercise and sufficient sleep. But pre-natal and neo-natal care are examples of preventative care requiring medical expertise and therefore cost, and this sort of care should be made available to all as far as possible.

Within these limits, the Church has been advocating for decades that health care be made more accessible to all, especially to the poor. Will the current healthcare reform proposals achieve these goals?

The current House reform bill, HR-3200, does not meet the first or the fourth standard. As Cardinal Justin Rigali has written for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, this bill circumvents the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions) by drawing funding from new sources not covered by the Hyde Amendment and by creatively manipulating how federal funds covered by the Hyde Amendment are accounted. It also provides a “public insurance option” without adequate limits, so that smaller employers especially will have a financial incentive to push all their employees into this public insurance. This will effectively prevent those employees from choosing any private insurance plans. This will saddle the working classes with additional taxes for inefficient and immoral entitlements. The Senate bill, “HELP,” is better than the House bill, as I understand it. It subsidizes care for the poor rather than tending to monopolize care. But it designates the limit of four times federal poverty level for the public insurance option, which still includes more than half of all workers. This would impinge on the vitality of the private sector. It also does not meet the first standard of explicitly excluding abortion coverage.

I encourage all of you to make your voice heard to our Representatives in Congress. Tell them what they need to hear from us; no healthcare reform is better than the wrong sort of healthcare reform. Insist that they not permit themselves to be railroaded into the current too-costly and pro-abortion healthcare proposals. Insist on their support for proposals that respect the life and dignity of every human person, especially the unborn. And above all, pray for them and for our country.

[Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: We are not a “Catholic” organization, nor do we customarily publish sectarian doctrinal presentations, but we find Bishop Nickless’s letter to be doctrinally sound from a Christian perspective. Herein he makes a compelling contribution to a proper understanding of the “health care” debate. Hence its place in our publication today.]


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