Bishops Are Behind the 'Let Women Die' Act and the Push Against Birth Control--Even As They're Under Fire for Sex Abuse Scandals
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Last week, the House's passage of the now-notorious H.R. 358 -- also known as the "Let Women Die" bill -- caused deserved outrage. But the bill's connection to the high-ranking Catholic group that fought for its passage, even while the American church is fighting a horrific new sex abuse scandal, hasn't been given the attention it deserves.
The new bill (which the president has vowed to veto) would essentially obliterate abortion coverage by both public and private insurers, and most egregiously get hospitals off the hook for refusing to perform abortions for women whose lives are in immediate danger. It would literally allow hospitals to let women die with impunity.
H.R. 358's easy passage by a majority in Congress (with some defecting Democrats in the ranks) delivered another shock of sexism in a political landscape that has been assaulted by one anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-women's health measure after another, all firing in a succession of rapid shots from statehouses across the nation as well as from DC. Helping to man the artillery is a largely disgraced Catholic hierarchy.
This momentum for misogyny has been painted as having mostly arisen from the Tea Party and the extremist evangelical megachurch Pat Robertson types. But these anti-choice forces are not alone, and they are not solely responsible: rather the (all-male, it should go without saying) Council of Catholic Bishops has aggressively, relentlessly, and successfully lobbied for many of the worst of the measures in the "War on Women."
During the health care debates of 2009, this group was instrumental in pushing for anti-abortion language. At the time, NPR reported that Democrats found them to be "a lobbying force of unexpected influence" that had decided after budget cuts to focus their "strongest efforts" almost entirely on abortion issues rather than waste time on say, helping the poor.
Specifically, their aims have included the one-two punch of pushing for the "let women die" clauses and anti-abortion measures of H.R. 358, as well as the alarming new fight against coverage for contraception, which would deprive the overwhelming majority of the Catholic public that uses birth control with coverage for birth control.
The council has done this without being questioned by the mainstream media even in the long shadow of scandal, even though much of the American Catholic hierarchy's capacity to treat issues of sex appropriately has been thrown into serious question by the seemingly never-ending child sex-abuse travesty.
Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check (who has been on this story for years) points out the obvious connection that many are missing. The very same week a bishop was indicted for failing to report sexual abuse in his diocese in Kansas City was the week that H.R. 358 came through Congress with heavyhanded lobbying by that very bishop's colleagues.
Taking lewd photographs of young girls and covering it up. Raping young boys and girls and covering it up. Getting women pregnant and covering it up.
There is a sustained pattern of institutionalized corruption and immorality by any measure and these men are allowed to declare themselves the moral arbiters of the most private decisions made by women and their families?
Here is the dramatic opening of the news story about the indictments in the Kansas City Diocese from the New York Times:
A bishop in the Roman Catholic Church has been indicted for failure to report suspected child abuse, the first time in the 25-year history of the church’s sex abuse scandals that the leader of an American diocese has been held criminally liable for the behavior of a priest he supervised.
The indictment of the bishop, Robert W. Finn, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph by a county grand jury was announced on Friday. Each was charged with one misdemeanor count involving a priest accused of taking pornographic photographs of girls as recently as this year.