Catholic Health Association, abortion, and celibacy

Okay, back to a serious topic after a week having fun with poetry and fiction.  I hope it’s not too incongruous…

The national Catholic Health Association – comprised of Catholic hospitals and health care systems, as opposed to the Catholic Church, and in this case opposed in so many words – came out yesterday supporting the Democratic health reform plan.

In the statement titled The time is now for health reform” posted this weekend on Catholic Health World, President and CEO Sister Carol Keehan states

CHA has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women.

She points out that in the bill that any money going to an abortion has to paid by the individual insured independently from federal funding, so that, despite opponents’ claims, tax money will not pay for abortions.

Unlike “pro-lifers”, the Catholic Health Association understands that women’s health needs – especially for those who are most needy and vulnerable – is an array of concerns and issues, in a full and sometimes nuanced and even fluid context.

Hardline “pro-lifers” simplify the discussion into a childlike good-evil binary equation – they are deadening it, they want to take away the supple language that more thoughtful souls use to mold their opinions as they actively engage the world.   They know that the only way to get their view across is to attempt to hinder thinking about it; the only way they can win is to deny you your humanity.   That is the purpose of the Stupak amendment.

George Will, several years ago, made the point that the problem with celibacy as a required condition for Catholic religious is that celibacy is nothing but the last remnant of a complete lifestyle of Augustinian austerities they were expected to live by.   The rest of it that created a context for celibacy, such as maintaining a limited diet and not listening to music, have fallen away.  Celibacy was, for the right person, a choice that could be held fast and celebrated in the heart as part of a life-encompassing purity.

Now out of its proper context, celibacy is a demand that is at odds with the sensuality (in the broad sense) of the environment most Catholic religious have comfortably created for themselves.  And that is why we are seeing, in the news daily, that today celibacy is untenable.

In the same way, hardline “pro-life”‘s vehement demand that no “babies” be aborted (ignoring the fact that God has put into play biological conditions in which half of all human babies conceived die of spontaneous abortion) rips abortion from its true place in the spectrum of women’s health considerations and services – albeit a very narrow, very dark band in that spectrum of options that ideally should be used only after all else in exhausted – and forces it to stand alone and out of context.    But alone, the only means to keep it standing, without the natural buttresses in overall women’s healthcare, is to ossify it.  Making “abortion” a hard and dead and therefore unyielding issue is the only worldview hardline “pro-lifers” can have.   A worldview that ignores 900 of their neighbors are dying each week from having no health coverage or under-coverage, and that millions cannot, or would not be able to if they lost their job and eventually their COBRA, get health insurance at any price.

The Catholic Health Association recognizes that abortion considerations and concerns are just one part of a balanced perspective on women’s health issues, to wit

In addition, there is a wonderful provision in the bill that provides $250 million over 10 years to pay for counseling, education, job training and housing for vulnerable women who are pregnant or parenting. Another provision provides a substantial increase in the adoption tax credit and funding for adoption assistance programs.

That is pro-life.


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