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On March 15th, Catholic Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote an article for “On the Square.” He said the Senate health care reform bill is “gravely flawed. It does not meet minimum moral standards in at least three important areas: the exclusion of abortion funding and services; adequate conscience protections for health care professionals and institutions; and the inclusion of immigrants.”

He also said: “Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and a number of his Democratic colleagues have shown extraordinary character in pushing for good health care reform while resisting attempts to poison it with abortion-related entitlements and other bad ideas that have nothing to do with real health care.”

This afternoon a last-minute deal won over anti-abortion Democrats, ensuring that the House of Representatives would pass the health care reform bill. President Barack Obama has promised to sign an executive order that superficially and probably ineffectually addresses two of the three important areas that Bishop Chaput mentioned above: the exclusion of abortion funding and services and adequate conscience protections for health care professionals and institutions. See text of executive order on abortion. I wonder if Bishop Chaput still regards the bill as “gravely flawed.” I wonder if he still regards Congressman Stupak as showing “extraordinary character.”

In an ironic twist of our culture wars, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Organization for Women are both opposed to the last-minute deal with anti-abortion Democrats. In the case of the former group, they are opposed because they wanted the restrictions to be part of a bill rather than an executive order, knowing that an executive order cannot trump law. In the case of the latter group, they are opposed because they claim President Obama negotiated “health care on the backs of women,” betraying his pro-abortion campaign promises.

My opinion about the deal is revealed in the title of this blog post. So-called anti-abortion Democrats should not be congratulated for being crucial players in the passage of a bill that leaves the unborn child vulnerable; their negotiation with the Obama administration reveals cowardice, not courage. In less than twenty-four hours, Congressman Stupak was lionized as an anti-abortion hero and then pilloried in the House chamber as a “baby killer.” Should he – or we – be surprised? Convictions about the sanctity of life must run deeper than advocacy for any president’s legacy or any political party’s agenda.

In addition to not meeting the “minimum moral standards” mentioned by Bishop Chaput, the health care reform bill has negative consequences that will significantly affect the economy, health care, medicine, role of government, American enterprise, and free society. Elected representatives have substituted their will for our will, brazenly ignoring the majority opposition from Americans. Mark your calendars: today the government got bigger while the citizen got smaller.

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Speech from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH)

Speech from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

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