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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Catholic Nuns Speak Truth to Power on Health Care Reform and Abortion

American women religious in concert with the Catholic Health Care Association were the coalition the US Conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives eventually listened to when they voted on March 23rd, to pass the long overdue health care reform legislation.

An April 16, 2010 article in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) tells the story about how the Catholic Health Care Association aligned with women religious and lay groups to educate the US Congress about the need to pass Health Care Reform.

Meanwhile, the American Bishops appeared fixed on including the most restrictive anti-abortion language imaginable in the bill. Rather than focus on the bill's badly needed reform measures, the Bishops pushed, instead, for even more restrictive language than is already included in federal Medicaid law.

Thankfully, the voices of persuasion and reason prevailed with the Conservative Democratic legislators who were ultimately convinced to vote in favor of the reform. This Catholic coalition victory also puts women religious into the arena of being politically influential. These intelligent women rose above the useless bickering about how restrictive the "restrictive" abortion language should be, while keeping their focus on supporting the common good in the bill.

A quote in the NCR from a "prominent theologian" said the Bishops thought the health bill should be defeated because they wanted to be the sole moral arbiter on complex legislative issues. They did not appear to be so worried about the common good.

A coalition of Pro-Life Women Democrats who proved they were able to work collaboratively with Pro-Choice legislators is really good new-news. These women added clout to their spiritual and political networking. By combining their compassion with their life experiences, they convinced the word-smithing skeptics of reform to think less about abortion language and more about the needs of the uninsured, the under-insured and those whose lives depend on receiving quality care, regardless of their abilities to pay.

Meanwhile, American Bishops continue their focus on the Republican party as the only way to reliably enforce the government's policy position against funding abortion.

Women religious like Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Services who is a member of the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, spoke truth to the power of the American Bishops. It was the right thing to do.

Campbell is identified as a long time legal advocate for the poor. She and the coalition prevailed in the health care reform vote. They are to be congratulated for standing tall, by supporting the common good.

American Bishops should also congratulate the coalition, but I have not heard a peep out of them. Nonetheless, in their positions, they don't worry about where their personal health care insurance is coming from. They don't pay emergency room bills if their children become critically ill in the middle of the night. Bishops have never turned away from a drug prescription counter because they couldn't afford to pay the price of the medication. Our American Bishop's should take every opportunity to become attuned to the needs of common people.

Whether one is pro-life or pro-choice, health care problems are faced by thousands of Americans during every hour of every day. Abortion is the not our nation's biggest health care problem. Yet, access to quality and affordable care is a right we all deserve.

I hope the Catholic Coalition who helped pass health care reform keeps on growing. There are certainly hundreds more problems in the world to fix for the common good.

American Bishops, on the other hand, need to be non-political and more collaborative. It's how Health Care Reform, with politically astute Catholic Nuns in support, finally became law.

Comment from Caroline in Virginia: This article is good Julie. If ever there was a group of women held down by a male organization, these nuns have finally added their influence to health care. Caroline

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Blogger Kait said...

Another great blog, Julie. I do think that speaking truth to power is vital and an unappreciated model these days! In fact, I think there is no greater calling than that of these women religious. They are there for the poor, the hungry and the otherwise lost. They are the "church" I appreciate and believe have God's ear. Without them, so many would be lost. Thanks for highlighting their moment of transformation here.

4:27 PM  

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