The US bishops are urging lawmakers to revoke nearly $500 million of federal funds slated for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
In a letter to lawmakers Monday and signed by Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote that many Americans find the notion of taxpayer money going to the women’s health services organization troubling, especially in light of recent videotapes secretly recorded by an anti-abortion organization.
“The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more “intact” organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans,” O’Malley wrote.
Planned Parenthood has maintained that it has not broken any laws, and its representatives have alleged that the Center for Medical Progress may have obtained the recordings illegally. A federal judge on Friday barred the organization from releasing more videos, but the group appealed that decision.
Defenders of Planned Parenthood say that although the network is the largest abortion provider in the United States, its clinics also provide a range of health care for women, and they fear that those services would be in jeopardy if the defunding bill passes.
The bill, introduced by Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, would redirect the money to other health care providers. A Democratic filibuster is expected to block the bill in the Senate.
Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, a rising leader for the center-left wing of the American hierarchy, weighed in on the controversy Monday as well.
In an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune, Cupich dismissed the controversy about how the tapes were made, writing, “the widespread revulsion over the tapes arose because they unmasked the fact that, in our public conversation about abortion, we have so muted the humanity of the unborn child that some consider it quite acceptable to speak freely of crushing a child’s skull to preserve valuable body parts and to have that discussion over lunch.”
He said the reaction to videos shows that “deep within the hearts and souls of Americans there still resides the truth that an unborn child manifestly is a human being, entitled to rights and respect,” and tied the abortion controversy to other issues.
“While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice,” he wrote.
In his letter to lawmakers, O’Malley highlighted the Church’s work with pregnant women, writing: “Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centers have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Our hospitals and other health facilities are second to none in providing quality health care for women.”
“We support the legislative proposal to reallocate federal funding, so that women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion,” he wrote.