To the editor:
Bishop Clark and other Catholic leaders recently spent a great deal of effort encouraging several local Congressmen to override President Bush’s veto of legislation that would have expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Activists protested at the Congressional offices and Bishop Clark, in letters to the Congressmen, urged them to support expanded opportunities for insurance coverage for the most vulnerable members of the community.
As well-intentioned as these efforts were, these religious leaders and activists ignored, or were unaware of serious moral questions in the bill that violated Catholic teachings:
* The bill allowed the distribution of birth control to teenagers without their parents’ knowledge or permission
* The bill opened the possibility for taxpayer funded sterilization and would allow states to divert federal funds, earmarked for abstinence programs, to be used in contraceptive programs
* The bill omitted coverage for an entire class of innocent people: the unborn. They were covered under the old SCHIP program but the new version, passed by the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives, removed that clause.
* Sadly, the new SCHIP policy allowed for taxpayer funding of abortions.
Thankfully, the bill was not enacted into law. Why did our Catholic leaders, especially our Bishop, not use their influence to persuade our representatives to remove those offensive portions of the bill? We must never compromise our religious principles when creating legislation that affects the good of the country. We look to our religious leaders for guidance and pray such omissions will never happen again.
Michael Aiello, MD
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Catholic Health Association of the United States says it is a “myth” that the SCHIP reauthorization bill promotes abortion. See www.chausa.org/NR/rdonlyres/9073111D-988C-4BCB-9C4E-7FB605C88E60/0/070808MythFact.pdf