US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Will abortion torpedo Catholic support for health care reform? UPDATE

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Looks like Catholics are once again caught between the pro-life rock and a hard place. Church teaching clearly prohibits abortion (and Catholic involvement with it) yet robustly supports a human right (yes, a right) to health care, which in terms of policy generally means government-sponsored systems.

The Wall Street Journal has an article today on the issue, highlighting the recent implosion of a Catholic attempt to participate in Massachusetts' universal insurance system, which would have required the Catholic system to refer women seeking abortions to a secular partner. UPDATE: USC's Kevin Clarke interviews Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good's John Gehring on this very issue in a news story on as well. Gehring agrees that allowing federal funding for abortion will likely kill health care reform.

This is going to be a tough one: If you're on the side of abortion reduction (as opposed to prohibition), a universal system seems the way to go, as industrialized countries with subsidized health care have much lower rates of abortion than the U.S. (12 per 1,000 women there as opposed to 21 in the U.S.; the highest world rates were places where abortion was generally illegal).

But it seems unlikely to me that any bishop or religious community will allow its member institutions to directly refer a woman for an abortion, even if it takes place elsewhere.

So should Catholics get behind the bills passing through Congress or not?