Catholics for Choice (CFC) took out a full page ad in this morning’s Washington Post with the ridiculous charge that “[t]he United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is directing healthcare policy in the United States.” Funny, I did not see any miters making their way down the aisles of the House chamber to cast their votes but maybe I wasn’t watching closely.
The ad goes on to warn of what they see as dire consequences of the bishops’ involvement, claiming “There will be: No access to abortion – even in cases of rape or incest; No in-vitro fertilization; No contraception…” Well you get the picture. They conclude: “Your healthcare will contain nothing that doesn’t meet the myriad litmus tests prescribed by a small group of men who don’t represent American Catholics, let alone the American people.”
Where to begin? The ad might meet minimal standards of decency and honesty if it had noted that the Catholic Church actually does provide a great deal of healthcare in this country, and a disproportionate amount for the poorest of the poor, so perhaps they deserve a seat at the table when discussing how to reform the healthcare system. They were not alone at the table, after all. Representatives from the insurance companies, from the pharmaceutical companies, from hospital associations, the AARP and AMA and, yes, from pro-choice groups, all got to exercise their constitutional right to petition Congress.
But, Frances Kissling and her crowd at CFC reserve all their ammunition for the hierarchy. It is an old story. It is, by now, a tired story, a shrill story, a predictable story. CFC is right that the bishops do not represent American Catholics before Congress but they never claimed to do so. They do represent the teaching authority of the Church to Catholics, however. This is what Kissling cannot abide. Her ecclesiology is difficult to gauge but it sure smells like liberal Protestantism, which is a fine ecclesiology to have, but it is not a Catholic ecclesiology. Her ethics are the kind of neo-Malthusian nonsense that one finds in liberal circles in the early 1920s, when Margaret Sanger was cavorting with the KKK and before Josef Mengele gave eugenics a bad name. Kissling’s politics, if adopted by the Democrats, will return the GOP to majority status because the result CFC wants in the current health care debate – overturning the logic of the Hyde Amendment – will only result in a group of pro-life Democrats losing their seats to pro-life Republicans.
CFC’s ad is repulsive and their ideas should be repulsed by Congress.