In response to Matthew’s post “Did U.S. Bishops Caveat an Eternal Truth?” which asks how the Bishops could endorse health care when it will pay for some abortions (rape and incest), we received comments, emails, and tweets that take issue with this point of view. The response suggests that this instance is no different than the Hyde amendment, which also contains exceptions for rape and incest. The issues here could not be more different.

The Hyde Amendment’s express purpose was to limit the funding of abortion. The best that could be politically achieved were the prohibitions on federal funding of abortion with exceptions for rape and incest. In no way did the Hyde amendment propose to actually pay for those exceptions.

Today, the situation is different. The Stupak amendment is an amendment to an overall bill that would have paid for all abortions. The amendment limited the types of abortions that would be paid for by the Health Care bill, but in the end the bill would still pay for some abortions. This makes it radically different from the Hyde amendment.

What the Bishop’s did is indicate that with he inclusion of the Stupak amendment, they could support the Health Care bill, a bill which will pay for some abortions. The net effect is that the number of abortions will increase due to the funding. No pro-life politician, no Catholic, and certainly no Bishop should in any way support a bill that will lead to additional abortions through federal funding.

While it is true that without the Stupak amendment, the health care bill would have been much worse and led to many more abortions, no Bishop of the Catholic Church and no one who calls themselves pro-life should support a bill that will lead to more abortions. Period.

For the Bishops to indicate support for a bill that will fund some abortions is unacceptable. Would the Bishops support a stand-alone bill that would pay for abortions in the cases of rape or incest? I think not. For the same reason , they cannot not support the health care bill either. No amount of universal health care make this permissible.

As stated, without the Stupak amendment the health care bill would have been worse, but there is no compromise on the funding of killing. By supporting the Health Care bill, even with Stupak, this is exactly what the Bishops are doing.

The Hyde amendment never funded a single abortion, but sought to limit what it could. The same cannot be said of the the Health Care bill, Stupak or no Stupak.