03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Catholic Hospitals Back Health Care Reform: Bart Stupak Continues to Whine

A group representing America's Catholic hospitals announced last week that it would support the Senate's health care reform legislation. This represents a break with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes the Senate bill, and, perhaps even "providing political cover" for pro-life Democrats to support the bill.

David Kirkpatrick offered the following analysis of the divide within the Catholic church:

Catholic scholars say their statement reflects a different application of church teachings against "cooperation with evil," a calculus that the legislation offers a way to extend health insurance to millions of Americans. For the Catholic hospitals, that it is both a moral and financial imperative, since like other hospitals they stand to gain from reducing the number of uninsured patients.

Indeed, for hospitals and health care providers, health care reform should be a moral and financial imperative. Further, this is exactly why rabid opposition to reform has been puzzling when it comes from the public and infuriating when it comes from religious leaders. The Catholic Church has advocated for universal health care for decades, but in the past few months, the A-word has proven to be the religious group's only policy issue of interest. Ultimately, this is the result of ''culture warriors'' on the far right who are intent on exploiting the Catholic Church as a pawn in their game.

As usual, Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) sounds like a petulant child:

Other abortion opponents argue that liberals are overstating the hospital association's influence. "They don't carry the same sway," said Representative Bart Stupak, the Michigan Democrat who led the effort that resulted in the House bill's including a full ban on abortion coverage in any subsidized health insurance plan.

Why is it that Catholic bishops seem to exert greater authority than Catholic hospitals in the crafting of health care legislation? Why do Catholic bishops have any authority in the matter at all? Why is Bart Stupak enlightening us on the relative sway of various Catholic lobbies?

What is this bill about? Here's a helpful reminder from the Catholic Health Association:

Health reform will provide the assurance that individuals and families can get the health care they need when they need it.
And:Health reform will help us move from a disjointed, expensive system to one that is coordinated, affordable, sustainable and fair.
And: Health reform will create greater access to and stronger emphasis on prevention and wellness to keep us from getting sick in the first place. Being healthy enables people to be productive in school, at work and in their communities. Healthier people also mean lower costs to the system and every one of us.

Bart Stupak loves talking about abortion, but when was the last time he talked about people's health? I hope that the Catholic Health Association's endorsement of the bill means that light is finally dawning on these past, dark months, when Americans all over the country, pious and secular, fought tenaciously against their own health. But I don't know if hindsight will allow us to understand the behavior of the politicians who led this charge, particularly the hapless Mr. Stupak. Bizarre, inexplicable, and unfortunately, in this case, deadly.

This article was written by Kathleen Reeves and originally published on