HCR: the community health care center dodge

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In its editorial endorsement of the Senate’s health care reform bill, the National Catholic Reporter takes the USCCB to task for buying into the idea that, because the bill doesn’t specifically forbid the community health care centers to be funded from performing abortions, it would therefore fund abortions.

…the bishops have to be clear that some of their talking
points might lead honest observers to question their competence — or
worse. In the past week or so, much has been made of the bill’s
provision of $7 billion dollars to community health centers. The
National Right to Life Committee chimed in that this money could go to
pay for abortions at clinics run by Planned Parenthood. Back to Logic
101: All Planned Parenthood clinics may be clinics, but not all health
care clinics are Planned Parenthood clinics. The community health
centers in question do not, never have, and have no intention of
performing abortions, and they are prohibited by statute from doing so.
This is a red herring and it was profoundly disappointing to see the USCCB Web site
give credence to it.

Bottom line: The current legislation is not “pro-abortion,” and there
is no, repeat no, federal funding of abortion in the bill.

More charitably, Tom Reese, S.J. portrays the bishops as fearing that “courts might force [the centers] to perform abortions.” Which courts? Does anyone seriously think that the Supreme Court is about to declare unconstitutional a statute prohibiting certain clinics from performing abortions?

Far be it from me to accuse anyone of bad faith, but the community health care center argument looks like one of those horribles lawyers use when they are piling up arguments on behalf of a client. No one doubts that in this particular case the National Right to Life Committee is representing the Republican Party. The question is why the USCCB, which insists that it supports health care reform as enthusiastically as ever, is doing the same.