The Obama administration’s talking point on health with regard to abortion has been to insist that any legislation will be “abortion neutral.” So called progressive evangelicals such as Brian McLaren, David Gushee, Jim Wallis and the all the other “prophetic voices” at Sojourners, have dutifully parroted the message.
Gushee, for instance, recently took to the pages of USA Today complaining that even though he agrees that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided he has been “demonized,” for his attempt to find “common ground” on abortion:
The pattern remains most obvious whenever anything related to abortion is under consideration — as with health care reform, in which abortion has played a supporting role in the debate despite the efforts of most Democratic leaders to keep the legislation abortion-neutral. The entire health care reform effort has become an episode in demonization.
Well, perhaps we have been too hard on the Wallis-McLaren-Gushee crowd. Maybe we should not have been so hasty in suggesting they are simply carrying water for Obama and Congressional Democrats on the issue of abortion and health care. So let me suggest a little test. Let’s call it the “how-deep-are you-in-the-tank-for-Obama test.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have just released a letter to Congress authored by the three Catholic bishops leading the Church’s efforts on health care. They don’t seem to think that health care legislation is “abortion-neutral,” and have warned “we will have no choice but to oppose the bill” unless current bills are amended. George Stephanopoulos summarizes the objection:
The bishops simply don’t buy the argument that House Democrats found a way to block public funding for abortions with the Capps amendment, and they insist that the Hyde amendment doesn’t apply to the bills because they are not appropriations measures. A sizable bloc of House Democrats, led by Bart Stupak of Michigan, agree and are pressuring for a clear prohibition on public funding.
It sure would be nice to know what Wallis, McClaren, and Gushee think of all this. Would it be too much to ask for them to step up to the plate and tell us whether they agree or disagree with the stance taken by the Bishops? To use rhetoric to which they might be more accustomed, will they “raise their voices in solidarity with the Catholic bishops” on the issue of health care and abortion. Or will they continue to carry water for the Obama administration? Are they now, at long last willing to surrender the notion that current health care legislation is still “abortion neutral?”
That should be sufficient for a “how-deep-are-you-in-the-tank-for-Obama test, at least for now.”