The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Is the S-CHIP bill pro-life?

There’s been a lot of discussion and debate lately about the controversial S-CHIP plan to provide health care for low-income families. Now, a group of Catholics has weighed in on the subject, and Ryan Anderson at the Weekly Standard has this reaction:

If you don’t support using federal funds to help middle-class families get health insurance, then you can’t call yourself pro-life. Or so says Catholics United, a “non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.”


Yesterday the group launched a series of radio ads attacking 10 Christian members of Congress who voted against the Democrats’ bill to reauthorize — and expand — the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). President Bush vetoed the bill earlier this month and the vote to override his veto will take place this week. Catholics United hopes to pressure these congressmen to reverse their vote by arguing that they have “compromised their pro-life voting records.”

The ads, running on Christian and talk radio stations across the United States, close with this plea: “I’m the mother of three children, and I’m pro-life. I believe that protecting the lives of our children must be our nation’s number one moral priority. That’s why I’m concerned that Congressman X says he’s pro-life but votes against health care for poor children. That’s not pro-life. That’s not pro-family. Tell Congressman X to vote for health care for children.”


Some facts may help. SCHIP is a Clinton-era program designed to assist poor children who don’t qualify for Medicaid but whose families can’t afford private insurance. For these children, the federal government provides subsidized health care.

The plan’s 10-year charter has just expired and it was up to Congress to send to President Bush a bill reauthorizing the program. But when they did, they changed it radically. As Fred Barnes pointed out: “Rather than keep SCHIP’s cap at 200 percent of poverty ($41,300 for a family of four), the bill would raise it to 300 percent ($61,950) nationally and even higher in New Jersey ($72,285) and New York ($82,300).” In other words, they turned a program assisting truly poor children into a welfare program for the middle class.


President Bush vetoed the bill. He explained his decision to do so this way: “The policies of the government ought to be to help poor children and to focus on poor children, and the policies of the government ought to be to help people find private insurance, not federal coverage.” According to the Urban Institute there are 689,000 children who are eligible for SCHIP (under the current regulations) but do not currently receive it. Expanding the program to cover middle-class kids does nothing to get these truly poor children covered.

He goes on from there, but you get the idea. I’m not sure it was all that wise of Catholics United to turn this into a pro-life argument. Seems to me, in that particular war, you need to pick your battles.

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posted October 17, 2007 at 3:45 pm

My impression is that “Catholics United” is a front group for social welfare Democrats who are interested in making the expansion of taxpayer-funded entitlements the criterion for a redefinition of “Catholic Social Justice” and “Pro-Life.” Debatable.Their staff consists of Mr. Chris Korzen of Portland, ME and James Salt of Washington, DC. I don’t know much absout them except that Mr. Salt was a big supporter of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is strongly pro-abort.Anybody know any more about them?

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posted October 17, 2007 at 4:32 pm

To the woman who says “That’s not pro-life. That’s not pro-family.” Well, it’s also not the business of the government. Government is not there to provide social welfare programs. That’s Church business. This so-called SCHIP is just a means to another end, which becomes a means to another end, and so on…The reason is because right now, SCHIP is limited in scope, but once it becomes a governement project it will be used to filibuster the courts and legislative processes to avoid real issues. Not to diminish the fact that children need healthcare, but I am saying that instead of building up government programs that most people can’t afford anyway, isn’t it better to say things like “if we can identify children in need, then we can just say ‘they don’t have to pay'”? Then, instead of spending money on the government level, we can hold doctors accountable to the oaths they took in the first place, ‘to help anyone so much as they can’.Meanwhile, later on, these same so-called Catholics, will try to use the SCHIP program to introduce federally funded abortions in the U.S. to a much larger degree than it occurs now.I assure you, to be pro-life, you must first be pro-community, pro-church, not pro-self. To be pro-community/church then leave charity up to the churches. At least then we still have a moral voice and moral authority. Do not leave the role of moral guide of to the courts. There it will be manipulated, coerced and ultimately reduced in a way that far contrasts what your good intentions originally meant for it to be.

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posted October 17, 2007 at 6:41 pm

I agree that this is mearly a back door attempt to create universal health care and one only need to check out the State of Tennessee to see how bad it can be. My question is are we really helping the future Generation by raising them to expect Goverment to solve all there problem’s. I was brought up that spanking’s were meant to show us the pain of wrong full thing’s and in hope’s of not committing bad thing’s we were punished for again. In the same tone if the president had signed the bill presented to him there was no real limit’s to behaviour set as to how much more the next time the bill come’s up do we raise the ceiling to $150.000 for a family of 4. As i understood it the Bill the President was willing to sign would have covered the truly needy.And lastly i’ll bet my pay for the next Month the Group mentioned in the Article is a left wing democratic group and probly recieve’s fund’s from Move on group……

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mary therese

posted October 18, 2007 at 7:55 am

It is unfortunate that so many of the leaders as well as the folks in the pew have limited their concept of “pro-life” to abortion, stem cell and euthanasia. Yes, those are life issues. But there needs to be an equal emphasis on all of the other life issues that face us today….health care, enviornment immigration, prison reform, welfare and oh yes, that war in Iraq. One’s stance on abortion is but one aspect of one’s commitment to promoting life and justice.

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posted October 18, 2007 at 10:53 am

The vetoed SCHIP is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Research the vetoed bill closely and you will see what most pundits are ignoring. “Catholics United” as well as many others are failing to mention a major item that was changed in the bill President Bush vetoed.The old SCHIP defined “life” as beginning at conception to enable prenatal care for expectant mothers. The current congress changed that definition to say that life begins at birth and further modified the bill to continue prenatal care. Evidently, to allow a law to define life at conception was viewed by pro-abortion politicians and advocates as too great a threat to legalized abortion given the current supreme court and current polls indicating that the vast majority of Americans are against legalized abortion as it now stands.And did “Catholics United” tell you about the increased funding to Planned Parenthood in the bill that was vetoed? How many more abortions do you suppose that was intended to fund?We all would do well to remember the concept that no evil can be done that good will come from it. There are other ways to provide health care assistance to middle class children if that is deemed necessary. We don’t need to increase our support of abortion.A closing comment on “Catholics United”: even a quick review of their web site reveals they do not support all the teachings of the Church. How do they explain the fact they are defending Catholic politicians who get a big 0% on their voting records where matters of Catholic moral teachings are concerned?

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posted October 18, 2007 at 7:44 pm

In equally shameful style, Assumption College’s student newspaper, Le Provocateur, ran a column claiming Bush is “the worst president” for vetoing S-CHIP, and that he odesn’t care about the poor because of his tax cuts for the rich. The writer included Marxist undertones attacking the rich, and implying they don’t deserve their wealth. I was, though, able to write a reply and urge fiscal sensibility on the paper’s part.And the same paper, so big on “social justice”, is a bigtime supporter of our college’s pro-gay group.

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