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Abortion Rates and Universal Health Care

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"Among the most nettlesome obstacles in the yearlong debate over increasing the accessibility and affordability of health insurance has been the question of what effect health care reform legislation would have on the incidence of abortion."

Thus begins Dr. Patrick Whelan's discussion of a study of the Massachusetts health insurance program, Commonwealth Care, upon which the Senate's health care reform bill draws. The study was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine

Whelan's conclusion: "The recent experience in Massachusetts suggests that universal health care coverage has been associated with a decrease in the number of abortions performed."

Read more.

Whelan is on the pediatrics faculty at Harvard Medical School and is a pediatric rheumatology specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston. He is also a member of the NCR board of directors.

Battle Lines Being Drawn: Archbishop Chaput on Catholic Support for Health Bill

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Writes Archbishop Charles Chaput on the First Things website today: "If the defective Senate version of health-care reform pushed by congressional leaders passes into law—against the will of the American people and burdened by serious moral problems in its content—we’ll have 'Catholic' voices partly to thank for it. And to hold responsible" [emphasis added].

You can find the entire piece here.

Where Catholic Women are Heard -- and Not

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The latest "Room for Debate" in the New York Times pays an indirect tribute to the National Catholic Reporter.

All five of those asked to comment on what the Vatican should do about clerical sexual abuse of children are men.

Every one of them is worthy. Each has something valuable to say. By not including a single woman in the mix, however, the Timesreflects a widespread absence of women's voices in the media's coverage of critical church debates.

Excluding women from official church councils has, of course, been standard practice in the hierarchy's exercise of rule. When the Vatican decided to investigate American nuns, for example, nuns weren't consulted in any formal sense. It was done, as usual, by fiat.

For the mainstream media largely to repeat this pattern of neglect has been irresponsible, lending credibility to a bias against women (my interpretation) and furthering it. Occasionally women are asked to join in, but not nearly often enough.

Church investigators can't be trusted

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Barbara Blaine of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) writes on the Ms.Blog the church should not be allowed to conduct an investigation into sex abuse allegations by clergy. She says church investigators can't be trusted.

Commentators use phrases like “tsunami” and “wildfire” to describe the Catholic sex abuse and cover-up crisis that is engulfing Europe right now. While the imagery is somewhat helpful, it obscures the origins of the scandal. Thousands of lives were not devastated by some unforeseen and unstoppable natural phenomenon; they were permanently scarred as the result of decades of deliberate and ongoing secrecy, recklessness and deceit by the self-serving Catholic church hierarchy.

Read More.

Catholics on the White House radar

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Catholics and health care reform came up during the press corps briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today:

Q: Does [the President] still have confidence [the health care reform bill] is going to pass?

MR. GIBBS: The President still believes we will have the votes, yes.

Q: How close are you? Are you within a handful, or a dozen votes? What do you think?

MR. GIBBS: I don't have a number to predict. I think the President, in the calls and the meetings that he’s having with individual leaders, is making great progress. ....

Q: Does the President think that he can still get Representative Stupak’s vote?

\"Yes, Sister!\"

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It made my day! As I ate breakfast, I was elated reading, "Listen to the Nuns," E.J. Dionne's column in the Washington Post this morning. He was reporting on the courageous stand that the leadership of thousands of nuns took in support of passing health care reform with the Senate language on abortion, not the highly restrictive (and much misinterpreted) Stupak language in the House bill.

I am truly proud of NETWORK (of which I am a member), the social justice lobby leading the effort, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and Sr. Carol Keenan who announced a similar position for the Catholic Health Association.

Munich archbishop expresses shame in sex abuse cases

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Munich
I walked over to the what the local guide book describes as the "Archbishop's palace" this afternoon and saw a crowd out in front. A demonstration, I thought as I approached the group, it's leader speaking into a hand held microphone.

"And if you look up at the third floor, you will see some beautifully carved..."

... Nope, not a demonstration, an Irish tour group and in a moment they were walking on.

Meanwhile, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, Reinhard Marx, speaking at a hilltop pilgrimage site north of Nuremberg, expressed “deep shame” today for cases of sexual molestation that have shaken the home region of Pope Benedict, and said he was in favor of changing German law so that church officials would have a greater duty to report suspected child abuse to prosecutors.

But Marx defended the overall integrity of the church, in a give and take with reporters, saying it would never be possible to ensure there is no abuse.

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July 18-31, 2014

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