As we approach the sacred Christmas season, the contrast between the culture of life and the culture of death could not be more stark. On Christmas Eve, as ordinary Americans prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, and the eyes of children sparkle with anticipation, our senators will be voting on a health bill that will earmark our tax dollars for abortion.
Think about that for a moment. Ask yourself: Could this really be happening in a nation in which a large majority of citizens profess belief in God? Could it be happening in an elected body of our government in which almost all 100 members claim to be Christian?
The bishops lay out their case clearly in a statement of Dec. 22: In the Senate version, “federal funds will help subsidize, and in some cases a federal agency will facilitate and promote, health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions in a very direct and explicit way, through a separate premium payment designed solely to pay for abortion. There is no provision for individuals to opt out of this abortion payment in federally subsidized plans, so people will be required by law to pay for other people’s abortions.”
The Senate bill will involve payment for abortions. Since the 1970s, different versions of the Hyde Amendment have prevented federal tax dollars from going toward abortion. This has been a long-respected and supported compromise in our national politics, in which the regime of abortion on demand was thrust upon us by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Millions of Americans, a majority in recent polls, do not agree with the Roe decision and consider themselves “pro-life.” The least our senators could do is carve out an area of conscience so that the tax dollars of pro-lifers will not go to the killing of babies.
As the anti-war protestors said not long ago, “Not in my name.”
Yet something about the timing of this health bill goes beyond the usual rough and tumble politics of abortion. Do none of the 60 senators set to pass this bill see the irony – the eternal irony – of voting on an abortion bill on Christmas Eve? Are the political pressures so great, and earthly rewards so glittering, that they place party allegiance above the remembrance of the Christ Child? Could not one say: In respect for the Christmas season, let us adjourn until the New Year and vote on this after we have celebrated this season of the Child.
Let us pray. And if that one brave senator is not found, let us pray for our nation.