In a letter to Sen. Robert P. Casey, the bishop of Scranton Pennsylvania, Joseph F. Martino, strongly condemned the Pennsylvania Democrat’s vote against an amendment reinstating the Mexico City Policy in spite of the senator’s claim to be “pro-life.”
“Your vote against the Mexico City Policy will mean the deaths of thousands of unborn children,” wrote Bishop Martino. “This is an offense against life and a denial of our Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human being. This action is worthy of condemnation by all moral men and women.”
The Martinez Amendment to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) would have reinstated the Mexico City Policy that disallowed U.S. taxpayer funding of international abortion-promoting organizations before President Obama struck it down Jan 23. The amendment was defeated in a vote of 60-37.
In his letter, Bishop Martino condemned Sen. Casey’s vote against the Martinez amendment which would have prevented “over 450 million dollars of American foreign aid … [from going] to organizations that are militant in promoting abortion as a method of population control, particularly in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds.”
The bishop also urged Sen. Casey, a Catholic who has touted a strong pro-life identity, to rescind the vote. “Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy,” said the bishop.
A release issued by Sen. Casey’s office the day after the vote said that “Restrictions on the federal funding of abortions are in place both domestically and overseas.” The release cited the Helms amendment, which disallows foreign aid from paying for abortions directly.
Bishop Martino’s letter pointed out that the Helms Amendment does not restrict recipients from using their own money to provide abortions, and does not deny money to organizations that lobby to dismantle the legal protections for unborn children in foreign governments, as the Mexico City Policy had done.
The bishop commented on the irony of the Senate having voted down the amendment the same day it signed legislation granting greater access to health insurance for children. “What hypocrisy offers health insurance to children in one part of the world when children in another part will be deprived, by the stroke of the same pen, of their first breath?” wrote Martino.
“I recognize and respect the burdens that you bear as a United States Senator; however, I remind you that your responsibilities as a Catholic bound by the faith of the Church exceed even those of your office.”