Why Are Religious Lawmakers Out to Kill Health Care Reform?

Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, has threatened to hold up health care reform that has a public option, against the Democratic caucus that kept him in its ranks despite disloyalty. His position stands against the best interests of his constituents and millions of Americans who reside outside his home state of Connecticut, headquarters of the insurance industry.

Rep. Bart Stupak, a Catholic, threatens to hold up health care reform, desperately needed to save lives, because proposed legislation, he claims, insufficiently segregates federal dollars that might be used to fund an insurance plan that might cover abortion services.

Of course many “people of faith” would find Lieberman’s public option threat reprehensible, and some would take issue with Stupak’s ploy. Even more than Lieberman’s position, Stupak’s is one that gets a pass as being “consistent” with an ethic of protecting the sanctity of life.

But even among Catholics, Stupak (and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) don’t represent the majority of Catholics, according to a recent poll by Catholics for Choice. That poll found that “Catholic voters believe the US Catholic bishops are wrong on healthcare reform. Sixty-eight percent disapprove of US bishops saying that all Catholics should oppose the entire healthcare reform plan if it includes coverage for abortion and 56 percent think the bishops should not take a position on healthcare reform legislation in Congress.”

What’s more, as I pointed out yesterday, Stupak is out of step with his party’s platform and the majority of elected representatives of his party. Intraparty dissent is fine, of course, what’s the real motivation of Stupak and the “about 40” members who want to kill the party’s signature policy initiative to appease religious conservatives — who have a bogus argument anyway? Seems like it could do more damage than good to the coveted “people of faith” imprimatur.

UPDATE: The Family Research Council has a new web site aimed at mobilizing activists against health care reform, and a new ad — almost a parody of itself — that claims that people will be denied coverage for needed medical services in order to pay for abortions. “To think that Planned Parenthood is included in the government-run health care plan . . . . They won’t pay for my surgery, but we’re forced to pay for abortions!” exclaims a man to his wife — both of whom look they came straight of the Values Voters Summit central casting.

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