Magazine article The Human Life Review

Paging Dr. Weldon

Magazine article The Human Life Review

Paging Dr. Weldon

Article excerpt

From California, this dispatch just in from an old friend, Bill Cox, the president of the Alliance for Catholic Health Care: A federal court of appeals in the Ninth Circuit has sustained the claim of the Alliance to have standing and defend itself against a law of California that compels all providers of emergency health care to deliver their services to all who present themselves for care-including the provision of abortions. The Catholic hospitals refuse to participate in abortions, even when those surgeries are claimed to be necessary to the life or health of the pregnant woman.

There is hardly a need to cover that vanishingly small number of cases, for there has been no want of hospitals and clinics in California ready and eager to perform abortions under any conditions. The story more likely to be missed here is this: If the Catholic hospitals manage to stand against the "public policy of California," it is because they have been sheltered now by the timely moves of Rep. Dave Weldon (R., Florida) and the amendment he attached to an appropriations bill in 2004. Under the Weldon Amendment, all federal funds would be withdrawn from instruments of federal, state, and local governments that discriminate against "health care providers" that refuse to provide abortions, refer patients for the surgery, or cover the surgery in their own medical plans. The political class that forms the regime now in California complains that the Weldon Amendment works to prevent California from enforcing its public policy. Yes; exactly right. And a good day's work that is.

It is also a telling example of the kind of leverage that is available with a Republican Congress and a pro-life majority in the governing party. It is one of those advantages easily overlooked as even members of the conservative base curiously fail to notice the many places at which a Republican Congress continues to make a difference, even while it suffers the flaws of character that we can count on finding among those creatures somewhere between the beasts and the angels. But that failure to notice has apparently affected even the conservative leaders in Congress. Don't get me wrong: On matters like cloning and the destruction of embryonic stem cells, the Republicans in Congress have shown a sensitivity that runs beyond the things we might expect from most Americans, who understandably have their own business to distract them. But we have some other mounting crises, of serious concern to the conservative base, and they could be addressed, with powerful effects, by measures quite as simple and direct as Dave Weldon's amendment. I'll list two or three.

The deepening crisis over same-sex marriage

Some of us posted warnings as much as ten years ago about the extended effects of proclaiming in the law, not merely the legitimacy, but the essential "lightness," and even the constitutional standing, of same-sex marriage. Lincoln remarked in his famous speech at the Cooper Union that if we conceded that slavery were right, then all words against it would be wrong, and may rightly be swept away.

The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts established the legality of samesex marriage, and now officers of the law at every level are drawing out the moral implications: Any justice of the peace who refuses to honor that law shall lose his commission. The public schools in many towns are now engaged in an active program to teach, even the youngest children, the tightness of the homosexual life and of families constituted by two fathers or two mothers. Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts, reports the case of a father who protested over such instruction of his child. He was told by the superintendent of his local schools that the supreme court of Massachusetts had established the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and it was the duty of the schools to instruct the children in the realities of the community in which they lived.

With the force of the same logic, the sweep of the movement reaches the churches and synagogues, as Maggie Gallagher has already noted in her tracking of these trends. …

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