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more than a shred of difference

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 29, 2009

Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, sees “not a shred of disagreement” between the stand her organization has taken on the health-care reform bill and the stand taken by the US bishops’ conference. She has a point. CWN readers will recall that when the New York Times ran a front-page story on an alleged split between the CHA and the USCCB, our own coverage called attention to the errors in the Times coverage.

Still there is a very important difference (if not a “disagreement”) between the public statements released by those two organizations. The US bishops have been enthusiastic about health-care reform as a general proposition, but critical of the legislation approved by the US Senate, which allows for abortion subsidies. Speaking for the US hierarchy, Cardinal DiNardo said: “We continue to oppose and urge others to oppose the Senate bill unless and until this fundamental failure is remedied.”

That’s clear, direct, and unmistakable. The USCCB opposes the Senate bill. You can look for a similarly definite statement on the CHA web site, or you can take my word for it: There is none.

Instead, Sister Keehan expresses confidence that the abortion issue can be resolved. “We believe there is a great possibility and probability that in conference committee we can work toward a solution that will prevent federal funding of abortion,” she now says. Maybe we can. But what if we can’t? What if the legislation that emerges from the conference committee still includes taxpayer funding for abortion? Would the CHA favor that legislation? We’ve been asking that question for 3 months now. We still don’t have an answer. 

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