The New York Times dropped coal in Catholic pro-life stockings on Christmas Day with an article reporting a split on abortion between the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference and the Catholic Health Association, which represents about 600 Catholic hospitals.
CHA president Sister Carol Keehan had issued a statement that said, “now that a public health insurance option is no longer on the table” in the Senate’s health care reform bill, the CHA is “increasingly confident” that a compromise formulated by Catholic Democratic Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania “can achieve the objective of no federal funding for abortion.”
Pro-life activists call Casey’s proposal phony. National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson, for example, said the Casey language “apparently would make it the default position for the federal government to subsidize plans that cover abortion on demand, and then permit individual citizens to apply for conscientious objector status.”
A year ago, Keehan defended ill-fated Obama HHS nominee Tom Daschle and his choice for deputy health care director Jeanne Lambrew, both abortion rights supporters.
But after last week’s New York Times story, Keehan claimed that the CHA is committed to health care for human life “from conception to natural death,” adding that “There is not a shred of disagreement between CHA and the bishops.”
A look at the campaign contributions of the governing board members of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, however, tells a very different story.
The pro-life Catholic Culture website notes that “a Catholic Health Association officer made significant contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Obama campaign.” That, however, is just one part of a surprisingly large pro-abortion iceberg.
Catholic Culture was apparently referring to the 2009-10 CHA Board of Trustees' speaker of membership assembly Lloyd H. Dean, CEO of Catholic Healthcare West in San Francisco. Dean was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s candidacy, giving $2,300 to his campaign in September, 2007, according to Federal Election Commission records. And the FEC reports Dean giving a total of $10,000 to the DSCC this year.
But then there is CHA trustee Lindsey Artola, vice president for advocacy and development of Provena Health in Illinois. She gave $250 each, according to the FEC, to Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin and Rep. Debbie Halvorson, both Illinois Democrats. Planned Parenthood Illinois Action calls Halvorson a “strong supporter of reproductive rights and women’s health and has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record.”
Durbin, who is Catholic and formerly supported restrictions on abortion, was also endorsed by Planned Parenthood, which gave him, like Halvorson, a 100 percent rating.
Another CHA trustee, Roslyn Brock, the director for advocacy and public policy of Bon Secours Health System in Maryland, gave $1,000 to the Obama campaign early last year, FEC records indicate, as well as $1,000 in 2006 to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat with a 100 percent rating from the NARAL Pro-Choice America.
On top of that is trustee Robert Stanek, the CEO of Catholic Health East in Pennsylvania, who has given thousands of dollars in recent years to abortion rights supporter Sen. Arlen Specter – with his contributions coming both before and after the Pennsylvania Democrat’s switch from the Republican Party in the spring of this year.
Stanek has also given to Rep. Michael McNulty, D-N.Y., a Catholic with a mixed record on abortion who has voted in favor of embryonic stem cell research and voted against George W. Bush’s ban on contraception funding in U.S. foreign aid.
Then we have CHA advocacy and public policy committee chairman Joseph R. Swedish, the CEO of Trinity Health in Michigan, who gave $1,000 in 2005 to the re-election campaign of Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., according to the FEC. NARAL gives Stabenow a 100 percent rating.
CHA trustee Alan Yordy, President of PeaceHealth in Washington State, gave a total of $1,500 to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and $1,000 to Rep. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat and Catholic, both of whom get 100 percent NARAL scores. In addition, Yordy gave $500 to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, a Catholic, and $1,500 to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., both of whom voted against both the Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003 and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004. Both get 100 percent NARAL ratings.
Finally, there is David Benfer, a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives who serves as one of 10 members of the CHAUSA advocacy and public policy committee. According to the FEC, Benfer has donated to the campaigns of abortion rights supporters like Connecticut Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, former Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., a Catholic who was executive director of the pro-abortion Emily’s List.
Most Catholic Americans wrongly assume that Catholic hospitals are dedicated to fighting abortion. In fact, many of the most important people running those hospital systems, and representing them before government, have spent fortunes supporting some of the most powerful pro-abortion politicians in America.
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