What’s Next for the Pro-Life Movement in Health Care Reform?

By twisting the arms of freshman Democrats nearly out of their sockets, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, at the end of the day, managed to eke out passage of HR 3962, her health care reform bill. But her five-vote victory was so narrow that some pundits are now opining that the Senate version of the bill is dead. Don’t count on it.

With the President, Pelosi and Reid all pushing for some kind of health care legislation, the struggle against Obamacare is far from over.

The Left is furious at San Fran Nan for allowing a vote on the Stupak Amendment, which passed by a wide margin with bipartisan support. Its wide margin of passage makes Planned Parenthood and other abortion supporters even more determined to hold the line in the U.S. Senate, where they have the support of the majority of Democrat Senators and the two Republican Senators from Maine. They will seek to keep abortion in the Senate bill, then win in conference, and then count on Pelosi to deliver a party-line vote—this time without amendments allowed—in the House. As I say, the battle to keep abortion out of the bill is not over. Complacency could cost the lives of many babies.

For the moment, however, the pro-life movement can justly take pride in its political strength. Politicians are nothing if not realists, and they have just been treated to the spectacle of both Pelosi and the President caving in to pro-life pressure from within their own party. Notwithstanding their strident support of federally funded abortions, and despite the anger that their action generated among a large part of the Democrat base, they backed down.

I have no doubt that they will be back, quietly inserting abortion funding in conference and then counting on party loyalty to carry the day, but this will take time.

In the meantime, we must continue to oppose any health care reform that violates the rights of health care workers to freedom of conscience, or which denies the elderly the level of medical care they are accustomed to receiving, with the ultimate aim of reducing their number. (Think “Do not resuscitate.”) Nor should we agree to give permanent federal status, funding, and protection to Planned Parenthood, as the current bill does. Our goal must be to defund the abortion machine entirely.

I believe that the AARP has alienated much of its membership by backing this bill, given that it is today’s seniors who will sacrifice their quality of care to pay for this health care extravaganza. One may say the same about the American Medical Association, the majority of whose independent entrepreneurs do not want to be turned into government drones, forced to deny needed treatment to their patients by faceless bureaucrats. Both of these organizations will undoubtedly see their membership rolls shrink in the future.

As for the American public in general, there is growing skepticism about many aspects of this legislation. Needed reforms such as setting limits on court awards and increasing insurance competition and portability are given short shrift in the legislation. At the same time, its 2,000 pages create dozens of new bureaucracies to decide what kinds of treatments are available and to whom. Even those who are not pro-life have serious doubts about this legislation on such grounds, polls show.

Still, a bill will probably emerge from the Senate at some point. Pro-life Senators will probably even propose an amendment similar to that proposed by Bart Stupak and Chris Smith in the House. But simply banning abortion funding, although a necessary step, is far from sufficient to redeem this huge, indigestible monstrosity of a bill. Still, there will be many chances to propose, advocate, and fight for pro-life improvements during the process of the Senate deliberations and final passage, and the pro-life movement must be engaged every step of the way.

Pro-lifers must decide now if making modest improvements to Obamacare will produce a bill they can live with. I, for one, am not sure how many amendments would be necessary to clean up the bill so that its provisions no longer threaten unborn babies and infirm elderly. A Stupak Amendment is clearly not enough. It includes no conscience protection, and does nothing to prohibit hastening death (see http://blog.aul.org/2009/10/30/analysis-of-life-provisions-in-h-r-3962/). Other shortcomings abound. The House bill, for instance, permanently funds pornographic sex education for all students. It sets up an Institute of Medicine to study and make recommendations about Medicare, which may be the Trojan Horse to introduce rationing into the health care system (see http://www.gop.gov/policy-news/09/11/04/values-policy-concerns-with-the).

When the Senate finally passes a bill, both it and the House bill will be sent to a conference committee. The conference committee will consist of both Senators and Congressmen and will be chosen by the leadership of both parties in the House and Senate. The committee’s job will be to forge the two bills into one, called the reconciled bill.

Here’s where things get dicey (again). The conference committee, which will be dominated by Pelosi and Reid appointees, will have an enormous amount of discretion. It could report out legislation that bears little resemblance to that previously passed by the two houses. The reconciled bill could contain abortion coverage, for example, even if neither the House nor the Senate bill contained this provision. Or it could have a “public option” inserted, or stronger penalties for employers who do not have insurance for their employees. One insider with decades of experience in Washington puts it bluntly: “Anything can happen in a conference committee!”

The reconciled bill will then go to the House and the Senate to be voted on. This time, no amendments will be allowed. Congressmen must vote yea or nay. You can imagine the kinds of pressure that will be put on the Democrat majority to vote the party line.

This final vote will probably not occur until Christmas, a time when many Americans will be focused on faith and family.

I do not intend to sit out the debate in the Senate, or be distracted from our goal of protecting the sanctity of life. We will continue to urge amendments to improve the bill.

At the same time, I can tell you candidly that, no matter how many amendments are passed, I do not believe that this legislative monstrosity serves the interests of unborn babies, or the elderly, or the rest of us.

I, for one, do not want any part of Obamacare.

Steven W. Mosher


Steven W. Mosher is the President of Population Research Institute and an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, as well as an acclaimed author, speaker. He has worked tirelessly since 1979 to fight coercive population control programs and has helped hundreds of thousands of women and families worldwide over the years.

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  • I do not think ANYTHING can make this bill palatable.

    No matter what the bill says, the regulations promulgated will be written by the likes of Cass Sunstein (google “Cass Sunstein” “organ donation” and see what you get), President Obama’s Regulatory Czar, and John Holdren, (google “John Holdren” sterilant), President Obama’s Science Czar.

  • noelfitz

    I read here about San Fran Nan. As an Irish person I am not sure who she is. Is she Ms Nancy Pelosi?

    I read in Wiikipedia:
    “Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) is the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Before being elected Speaker in the 110th Congress, she was the House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007, holding the post during the 108th and 109th Congresses…

    Nancy Pelosi is the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. She is also the first Italian-American and first Californian to serve as Speaker. She is the second Speaker from a state west of the Rocky Mountains, with the first being Washington’s Tom Foley, who was the last Democrat to hold the post before Pelosi. As Speaker of the House, Pelosi is second in the line of presidential succession, following Vice President Joe Biden, which makes her the highest-ranking female politician in American history.[1]”

    I believe that both the first and second people in the line of presidential succession are Catholic. Are Ms Pelosi and Mr Biden really Catholics? Have they been excommunicated or condemned by the Church?

    I also believe Ms Sarah Palin is also a Catholic? Is Ms Pelosi more or less Catholic than Ms Palin? Does this question make sense?

    I also believe that the ultimate decisions in legal matters in the US are made by the Supreme Court, of which two thirds of its members are Catholic. Is this so? If it is true the US must be a very Catholic country.

  • wgsullivan


    The answer to your question all depends on how loosely one defines a Catholic. If one is truly a believer in the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic faith, then one’s actions must match their beliefs. It’s logical.
    Might make a tough go of it for many very public ‘so called’ Catholics.

  • Cooky642

    Dear Noel: wgsullivan was very kind in responding to you, but I doubt that he answered your questions adequately. Assuming that, like me, you prefer straight answers, let me take a run at your questions.

    Yes, “San Fran Nan” is a nickname for Mrs. Pelosi (she represents the San Francisco, California area). Yes, Mr. Biden (Vice President) and Mrs. Pelosi CLAIM to be Catholic, and no, they have not been officially excommunicated or condemned by the Church. However, since they consistently vote for and agitate for those anti-life issues defined by the Church (i.e., abortion, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, euthansia and homosexual rights), one has every right to call into question their claim to be Catholic.

    Mrs. Palin is does not claim to be Catholic. She was baptized in the Church, as I understand the story, but her family left and she is actively Protestant. Your question regarding the depth of Catholicity of Mrs. Palin vs Mrs. Pelosi makes perfect sense. Despite the fact that Mrs. Palin doesn’t claim to be Catholic, her views and votes are more in line with the Magisterium than Mrs. Pelosi’s. That, I think, is the best answer anyone can give you.

    As to the Justices of the Supreme Court, I wouldn’t put too much weight on their being Catholic. They are lawyers, after all, tasked with interpreting law in the U.S. One hopes that their decisions would conform to Catholic thinking. And, to answer an unasked question, some of the Justices who are Catholic are “more Catholic” than others.

    Finally, as to the U.S. being a “very Catholic country”…..oh, dear, how to say it kindly? This question could take the space of all 3 articles in any issue of Catholic Exchange and still not come to a definitive answer. So many MIS-interpretations of Vatican II have taken root, here, that one could make an argument for a divided Church: the American Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church. We are not a “Catholic country” in the way Ireland was before “the troubles” (did I get that right?). Which is why there is so much controversy, here. Most of us are doing the best we can with what we’ve got. I hope that helps you understand our situation.

  • noelfitz

    Is one a Catholic by receiving the sacrament of baptism, which puts on a soul a character or spiritual mark that can never be removed or by faith and works? It seems you favor the latter.

    Are you also defining a Catholic in terms of faith and works?

    Once a Catholic always a Catholic. Ms Palin is a baptized Catholic.

    Recently a friend of mine returnee for Medjugorje attended by thousands, many of whom waited hours to receive confession. Sounds impressive to me, reflecting the Catholicism of America.

  • Mary Kochan

    Yes, Biden, Pelosi, and any other politician whether in the administrative or legislative branch or any Supreme Court justice or lower court justice who is Catholic and who supports abortion legislatively, judicially, or administratively (such as through regulations, proposing legislation, recruiting and nominating pro-abortion officials, etc.) is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church. That is canon law.

  • noelfitz

    Mary, it is always great to hear from you, thanks. Are you saying Biden and Pelosi are not Catholics? Also which members of the Supreme Court, baptized as Catholics, are no longer Catholic, presuming that if one is excommunicated one is no longer a Catholic. I am not sure what question you answered “yes” to.

    Another question: is the Church remiss in not informing the faithful that certain prominent Americans are no longer Catholic?

  • noelfitz

    I have just looked at Wikipedias, not teh most reliable of sourcxes and read:

    “Excommunication can be either ferendae sententiae (declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court) or, far more commonly, latae sententiae (automatic, incurred at the moment the offensive act takes place). The excommunicant is still considered Christian and a Catholic as the character imparted by baptism is indelible. Their communion with the Church, however, is considered gravely impaired.[1]”

    Thus it seems that one who is excommunicated remains a Catholic. Thus Palin, Biden, Pelosi et al. remain Catholic.

  • Cooky642

    Dear Noel: I love a good debate, but the posting section of CE is neither the time nor the place.

    First, let me remind you of St. James’ very clear statement: “Faith without works is dead”! Works don’t “save” us, but neither does “faith” alone. One does the works out of faith and love. If I am your wife but refuse to wash your socks, cook your meals, or go to bed with you, what kind of wife am I? I may be in a legal relationship with you, but I certainly don’t love you.

    And, lastly, may I remind you that Medjugorje is NOT in the United States? Here, Catholics who would wait more than 10 minutes to go to Confession are all respondants on CE! No, seriously, our practice, here, does not match Medjugorje. That’s not a valid comparison.

  • Mary Kochan

    So, let’s see, Noel, according to you, a country proves it is Catholic by electing to high office excommunicants and apostates and violating foundational Catholic principles of human dignity in its legislation and jurisprudence. O-o-o-kay…

  • noelfitz

    I enjoy our discussions.

    Ms Palin is the apostate and was not elected. Biden, Pelosi and two thirds of the Supreme Court) were not formally excommunicated by the Church (ferendae sententiae).