White House And Bishops At Odds Over Abortion
"The White House is on a collision course with Catholic bishops in an intractable dispute over abortion that could blow up the fragile political coalition behind President Barack Obama's health care overhaul," the Associated Press reports. "A top Obama administration official on Thursday praised the new Senate health care bill's attempt to find a compromise on abortion coverage - even as an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Sen. Harry Reid's bill is the worst he's seen so far on the divisive issue. The bishops were instrumental in getting tough anti-abortion language adopted by the House, forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to accept restrictions that outraged liberals as the price for passing the Democratic health care bill. Reid, D-Nev., now faces a similar choice: Ultimately, he will need the votes of Democratic senators who oppose abortion to get his bill through the Senate."
The Senate bill allows "coverage for abortion in federally subsidized health care plans, provided that private funds are used to pay for the procedure. But abortion opponents say his compromise would gut current federal restrictions on abortion funding." Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops' conference Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, "called the provision 'completely unacceptable,' adding that 'to say this reflects current law is ridiculous'" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/20).