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An Unholy Compromise

The Evangelical and Catholic leaders who backed abortion funding in Obamacare.

9:00 PM, Dec 19, 2009 • By MARK TOOLEY
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On his website, Senator Casey boasted of the religious endorsements. "We have worked long and hard to develop meaningful language that would meet the requirements of long-standing prohibitions on federal funding of abortion and apply it to the new structures created in health care reform," he said. Having voted for Senator Nelson's failed attempt to specifically prohibit abortion funding, Casey was "determined not to give up, but to find another way." Casey and his religious supporters asserted that federal funding of abortion under Obamacare, would be avoided by "segregation of private premium funds from federal taxpayer subsidies, with segregation of funds conducted by insurance companies which will have annual audits." The Catholic bishops, National Right to Life, and Senator Nelson--prior to his Saturday reversal--have described this segregation, which is part of the new compromise, as largely a fiction to facilitate at least indirect government support for abortion.

A group of Nebraskan clergy has also urged Senator Nelson to back the Casey proposal. Nelson is a United Methodist, and his denomination's lobby office on Capitol Hill strongly supports government funded abortions. There's little evidence that Nelson pays them any heed, and instead he reportedly consulted the Catholic bishops about his own attempted prohibition on abortion funding in Obamacare. Clearly Nelson was not consulting the bishops when accepting the December 19 proposal offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Maybe the liberal evangelicals and Catholics backing the Casey proposal helped grease the way for Nelson's eventual compromise on abortion and support for moving Obamacare forward in the Senate. At very least, their activism illustrates that some professing pro-life religionists seem to prioritize passage of any government health care plan over robust legislative protections against government funded abortions.

Mark Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy and author of Taking Back The United Methodist Church.