Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Catholic Senators are Decisive Factor in Denying Conscience Protection

Bottom line: Both conscience protection and a ban of federal funding would have passed but for the Catholic Senators.

News came out earlier today, that the Senate Finance Committee led by Senator Max Baucus refused to accept an amendment proposed by Senator Orrin Hatch specifically excluding federal funding of abortion in that committee’s version of health care reform. The vote was 10-13 against the Hatch Amendment. All Democrats on the committee, except Kent Conrad, opposed the amendment. All Republicans, except Olympia Snowe, supported it.

There is nothing surprising about the vote. Far more disturbing was a later vote by the same margin denying conscience protection to doctors, health care facilities and hospitals which refuse to perform abortions. Thirteen Senators, including Catholics John Kerry, Maria Cantwell and Robert Menendez, voted against a second Hatch Amendment which would have protected Catholics and other conscientious objectors to abortion from discrimination by the Federal Government.

Here are the Senators who opposed both amendments (Catholics in bold):

MAX BAUCUS
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER
JEFF BINGAMAN
JOHN F. KERRY
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE
RON WYDEN
CHARLES E. SCHUMER
DEBBIE STABENOW
MARIA CANTWELL
BILL NELSON
ROBERT MENENDEZ
THOMAS CARPER

None of the Senators who voted for both amendments are Catholic. The margin was three votes – the same number of Catholic members of the committee who voted against both amendments – proving once again that on balance, it would be better for the unborn and for the interests of the Catholic Church if Catholics were barred from public office.

For the record, here is the conscience protection amendment they voted against:

Non-Discrimination on abortion and respect for rights of conscience
(a) NON DISCRIMINATION.-A Federal agency or program, and any State or
local government that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act ( or and amendment made by this Act), may not-
1) subject any individual or institutional health care entity to
discrimination, or
2) require any health plan created or regulated under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act), to subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination, on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
(b) DEFINITON.-In this section, the term "health care entity" includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.
(c) ADMINISTRATION.-The Office for Civil Right of the Department of Heath and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on this section, and coordinate the investigation of such complaints.