The Catholic Thing
The End of Common Ground Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Thursday, 12 November 2009


A good hearted and extremely well-connected Catholic came up to me at a Catholic event this week in Washington D.C. and said, “Now don’t you see the value of engagement? At the Kennedy funeral, Cardinal O’Malley directly lobbied the president to keep abortion out of the health care bill and look what happened.” This good-hearted Republican, who has been at the very center of the common-ground talks with the White House, had apparently missed the headlines only twenty-four hours earlier.

Even before the ink was dry on the Stupak Amendment, which limits abortion coverage in the new healthcare bill, the New York Times reported that the president, “Seeks Revision of Plan’s Abortion Limits.” President Obama told the Times, “There needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo [on abortion].” He said, “We’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortion.” The status quo he refers to is the Hyde Amendment. “On the other hand,” the president continued, “we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices.” That is the talking point of the abortion lobby, one they hope will unravel Stupak and give America the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.

The charge by the abortion lobby and their friend in the White House is that the Stupak Amendment goes far beyond the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funding of abortion). In their telling, Stupak says not only that women in the proposed federal health exchange may not use federal dollars for abortion coverage, they may not even use their own money to buy abortion riders. They claim, with the president’s apparent agreement, that this would restrict access to abortion for American women – that it is, in reality, a “middle-class abortion ban.”

For the sake of argument, let’s say they are right – that the Stupak Amendment disallows women from using their own money to buy abortion insurance. There is still nothing preventing them from marching into an abortuary and slapping down a wad of cash. That is mostly what happens today anyway. Insurers carry plans with abortion coverage, but most employers choose not to offer it, and most people have insurance through their employers. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before Congress in April that most “private plans do not cover abortion services except in limited instances.” What the pro-choice groups and president Obama are really asking for is a massive expansion of abortion coverage beyond the status quo – for coverage of all elective abortions and for that expanded coverage to be subsidized by federal dollars.

That’s if you concede their position for the sake of argument. But, in fact, they are wrong. The Stupak Amendment does allow women to buy insurance riders for elective abortions. Don’t take Stupak’s word for it. Take a look at, which is run by the left-wing St. Petersburg Times. They say the assertion that Stupak does not allow women to use their own money for abortion insurance is flatly “false.” According to, “The amendment says that individuals buying insurance on the exchange may still purchase coverage that includes abortions as long as no federal money is used.” also dispels the pro-abortion Obama myth that the Stupak Amendment would affect almost every woman in America. Politifact points out that Stupak only covers the virtual marketplace for insurance coverage that is created by the bill and that this virtual marketplace only covers the self-employed and small business owners. They point out that this virtual marketplace “would serve at most a small fraction of Americans.”

The day after the Stupak Amendment passed, Planned Parenthood announced that they would go to their ally in the White House to get the abortion language fixed. After all, Obama promised during the '08 campaign that he would put “reproductive health care” at the “center of health care reform.” The very next day Obama began parroting the now demonstrably false talking points of the abortion industry.

The abortion lobby certainly knows who their friends and opponents are. Even now, they are demanding that the Catholic Church lose its non-profit status because its role in promoting the Stupak Amendment. Obama has repeatedly shown that he is not really interested in common ground on abortion. Ironically, no issue is more “common-ground” than federal funding of abortion: polls and public policy surveys show that most Americans, even pro-choice Americans, oppose federal funding of abortion. That’s why the Stupak amendment passed with wide bi-partisan support, garnering even more votes than the final bill received.

Yet Obama-of-the-common-ground opposes Stupak. And so I ask: At long last, may we call a halt to the common-ground conversation that gullible Catholics believe they can have with the Obama Administration about abortion? Can we finally call a halt to the wishful thinking of those in the Vatican who are undermining the American pro-life movement by giving aid and comfort to Obama's aggressive abortion policy?

Barack Obama and the pro-abortion Democrats are not seeking common ground. They do not want compromise . . . except from us. What they want is to win. For them “common ground,” compromise, and dialogue are merely strategies of war. Sad to say, dialogue is cat-nip for gullible Catholics – both here and in Rome.


Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washinton, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy.

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Comments (16)Add Comment
Prissy returns
written by Bradley, November 13, 2009
The job of the pro-abortion forces is, as you point out, to win. Despite the temptation to adopt this standard, our job is different: as Catholics, we are called to convert. So while we should never compromise, on Stupak or related matters, we should always engage in dialogue, always with love, humility and patience. As Cardinal O'Malley pointed out, the only way we ultimately stop abortion is to convert hearts. It's hard work, but God's love is more powerful than their political tactics.
written by Dennis, November 13, 2009
Thank God there are Cathalic voices against this terrible Health Care Bill.
This counry can do better than socialist health care.
written by Austine Ruse, November 13, 2009
Yes, let's see if we can get the Nazis to stop invading other countries and killing Jews by dialogue! Yes, let's all chat while the bodies of little babies mount up. Let's all sit down of an evening, sip tea and dialogue while the defenseless little ones try their hardest to escape the knife. Yes, Bradley, let's do that.
The killing fields
written by Joseph, November 13, 2009
The expenditure of federal (taxpayer) dollars for abortion is as reprehensible as the spending on the unjust wars of aggression and occupation prosecuted by the U.S. government. Where is the "outrage" when it comes to spending $2 trillion on "defense" in the past decade? Hardly a whimper of protest. The "killing fields," whether in or outside of the womb, go on in the distorted name of "freedom." Obama's hypocrisy, by invoking God time and again to stake a moral position, is plainly obvious.
half way?
written by maggie, November 13, 2009
When people suggest we "find a half-way point where we can find common ground", I ask, "Where exactly is the half-way point between a dead baby and a live one?"
written by Joe, November 13, 2009
I was talking with a friend at work about the "health care" concerns of the Democrats. Boiling the issue down to its simplest component-it's all about power and control for them. The Democrats are not concerned with the health of the common man but the ablity to control whatever comes thier way. Its that simple.
Abortion Dike
written by Chris, November 13, 2009
The pro-abortion lobby has always reminded me of the little boy with his finger in the dike. He is afraid that if even one drop escapes, the whole dike will collapse. Abortionists are against parental notification, laws against partial-birth abortion and any reporting of minors seeking abortion among others because they are afraid the slightest crack in the dike will reveal that real live babies are being killed and they have no defense against that.
The Forked Tongue.
written by Willie, November 14, 2009
Well here we go again trying to make a moral equivalency between killing innocent life with intent and death in war. Gullible Catholics and liberal minded Roman clerics should wake up! It is all well and good that Obama is anti-war and all that but so was Neville Chamberlain. Face it this president in his past and present is the most pro-abortion politician that ever was. He is in debt to the abortionists as we are daily treated to duplicity. There is no room for common ground with evil.
To Mr. Ruse
written by Bradley, November 14, 2009
I'm not sure where you are going with this, Mr. Ruse. The Nazi military regime was stopped only with overwhelming physical force. Is that what you are proposing? Should we bomb clinics, kill doctors and jail women who have had abortions? Let's say we adopt your strategy of pitched political battle and then lose the Stupak vote. What then? More abortions and hardened hearts. The bookends of Catholic history give us clear direction on how to act: St. Paul's Epistles and Gaudium et Spes (28).
written by Dan Kennedy, November 14, 2009
Amen. It's hard enough fighting these battles, without being undermined by gullible, but well meaning Catholics.

Haven't they learned by now that the Obama administrations talks out of both sides of its agenda?
Re: "Abortion Dike"
written by Carl, November 14, 2009
True. That is why we have to open more fronts. Pointing at the immorality of abortion is not enough. We have to make the case for women who suffer the physical and psychological consequences of abortion. We also have to point to the demographic "time-bomb," and to the environmental fallout of both abortion and birth-control (e.g. estrogen in water). We also have to stress that this is a genocide and there will be a Nuremberg one day.
written by Pio, November 14, 2009
The author, Dan and Willie have all used the term "gullible" to describe certain Catholics, in particular certain clerics and the Vatican. I guess this group would include Pope Bendedict the Gullible, for graciously welcoming President Obama to the Vatican and engaging in dialogue with him.
Reply to Pio
written by Willie, November 15, 2009
I don't think that Pope Benedict XVI is a gullible man. If you will remember he shrewdly gave the President a book explaining Catholic teaching on life issues. You may also remember that the President told the Pope he was going to do everything to decrease the abortion rate. In other words he lied to his face. But then to lie to one's face is historically no uncommon trait for some world leaders. I don't believe the author or commentators in any way implied this Pope is gullible.
To Bradley
written by Austin Ruse, November 15, 2009
Just pointing out there are limits to dialogue. Sorry you did not get that. Moreover, I would point out the death of our children from abortion now exceeds the ghastly work of the Nazis. Yes, let's have tea and crumpets with the killers and those who support them. Now, I am not saying there is no room for conversation, but that it's being done not by people like you but by those who stand outside of abortion clinics turning women and doctors away from the killing. You should try it.
written by Richard Bruce, November 15, 2009
There are many libertarian Ayn Rand Republicans who hate the pro-life cause; Obama can make a deal with us or he can make a deal with them. The children in the womb are safer if Obama makes the deal with us. Of course Obama and the Democrats are trying to win. Of course we can not trust them. But we can not trust the libertarian crowd either.
35 Years
written by William H. Phelan, November 19, 2009
Fifty million Americans have been killed in 36 years since Roe v. Wade by abortion. The current issues are assisted suicide and euthanasia and they are/will be part of the health bill. If I were waiting for Christian armies to rescue me from Dachau or Auschwitz, I would still be there watching the Christian leadership having tea with my tormentors.

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