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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Virginia Catholic Conference, Abortion, and the Tenth Amendment

My pastor recently asked me if I would be the point of contact in the parish for the Virginia Catholic Conference (VCC) which is basically the Catholic lobby group for the two Virginia dioceses, Arlington and Richmond. I rarely say yes to anything without giving it serious consideration and research, so I've been examining the VCC website and looking at their 2018 legislative agenda.

Not surprisingly, their agenda is filled with issues that are questions of prudential judgment (on things like immigration, gun control, consumer protection, etc.) rather than issues involving non-negotiable moral imperatives like abortion and same sex "marriage"; but I'll set that aside for a moment.

What attracted my attention was one of the issues in the pro-life category which reads, "Banning state funding of all abortions not required by federal law." What? Don't we want to ban abortions "required by federal law?" The issue has a footnote which reads, "Under the Medicaid Program, the federal government funds abortions when the life of the eligible woman is at risk and in cases of rape and incest. States are permitted, but not required, to spend their own funds (with no federal match) for abortions that fall outside these three categories. Conference advocacy seeks to prohibit government funding of abortion to the greatest extent possible."

That had me scratching my head. Should Catholics support funding abortions "required by federal law." Perhaps it's just awkward wording since the feds, under Medicaid, pay for the abortions in question not the state of Virginia; but the implication is that federal law rules. Really?

And does Virginia comply with federal laws on abortion?

Yes. In fact, the state goes beyond it, providing abortion for "fetal impairment." The Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood's research arm, describes Virginia's abortion policy:
Every baby in the womb should be protected by law!
In Virginia, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of January 1, 2018:
  • Most woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion if the woman's life is endangered, or in cases of rape or incest.
  • Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest or fetal impairment.
  • The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest or fetal impairment.
  • A woman must undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours before obtaining an abortion; the provider must offer her the option to view the image.
  • An abortion during the third trimester may be performed only if the woman's life or health is endangered.
Most states follow the federal mandate. Some offer and pay for wider access to abortion.  So the question is, must states follow the federal mandate? And shouldn't Catholic groups stand in total opposition working to eliminate abortion from state health plans and insurance policies? In 1994, under a Clinton Administration directive to pay for rape and incest abortions, Utah refused while several other states said it should be optional and the states should decide what they'll pay for.

Which leads to another question. Are states, in fact, required to follow federal mandates, funded or unfunded? It appears that the VCC has no problem fighting other federal mandates, on immigration, for example. They oppose "efforts to force local law enforcement to sacrifice their own resources and level of trust within communities in order to do the federal government's job of enforcing immigration laws." So while the Conference recognizes the federal mandate that encourages paying for abortion for rape and incest; they resist the federal mandate on illegal aliens. Inconsistent at best.

And that brings me to the 10th amendment of the Constitution which reads:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
May the states refuse to comply with Federal mandates under the 10th amendment? According to the Cato Institute, no bastion of conservatism, yes in some cases. I don't agree with everything in the linked article, for instance, the Supreme Court is NOT the ultimate authority under the Constitution, as the author says. Congress actually has the power to remove issues from the purview of the courts, but the spineless wonders in that body seem to care only about the next election and their stock portfolios.

The Tenth Amendment Center discusses mandates and nullification and makes it clear that non-cooperation by the states is an important element in defying the evils being implemented by the feds. Unfortunately, many state political bodies are bribed and blackmailed into cooperation not only by the feds withholding funds but by economic threats from private bodies like Disney and the NFL.

And now back to the Virginia Catholic Conference. I don't deny they do some good work on pro-life issues. Just this week I got an alert to contact my delegate to support putting a state Hyde Amendment in the budget. So how can they imply to Catholics that Virginians are forced to accept the federal approach to murdering little ones conceived by rape and incest while resisting the federal call to use local police to arrest illegal aliens in our community? (Oh...they also want illegals to be eligible for drivers' licenses!) Why doesn't their legislative agenda on abortion read simply, "Banning state funding of all abortions"? That is, in fact, the Catholic position. Abortion is always and everywhere a grievous violation of the moral law.

And another puzzlement. Many states are calling for defunding Planned Parenthood, but that isn't in the VCC agenda either. Why not? It passed both houses in 2017 only to be vetoed by Governor McAuliffe. Why isn't it on the agenda for 2018? Make our new liberal governor face the issue as well! (To be fair the VCC did criticize McAuliffe's veto. But is that really enough when a professed Catholic commits such an appalling public scandal? Shouldn't our Virginia bishops have called out Tim Kaine for his recent vote against banning abortions after 20 weeks on babies capable of pain?)

Sad to say, this is typical of progressive Catholics who take as a given that banning abortion, a non-negotiable moral imperative, isn't possible. They give a pass to the pro-abortion politicians and then move on to the progressive issues like providing illegal aliens in-state funding at Virginia colleges and getting more tax dollars for a wide range of liberal causes.

USCCB bureaucrats undermine the faith here!
Is it surprising? Not a bit. Let's face it, most of the bishops in the U.S. are Democrats who look at politics more as liberals than as Catholics. They refuse to take action against the scandals of Catholic politicians with rare exceptions, like Bishop Paprocki of Springfield who said Senator Richard Durbin may not be admitted to Communion in his diocese. (Thank you, Bishop Paprocki!) Unfortunately, he is among the few and the brave who care more about Almighty God than the almighty world of power and prestige. Most of the bishops in the U.S. are cowards or worse. All you have to do to understand that is peruse the bishops' website and check out the backgrounds of the folks manning the bureaucracy many of whom are out and proud enthusiasts for intrinsic moral evils. Check out the Lepanto Institute and their research on the bishops "charities" which are up to their necks in cooperation with evil like the CCHD and Catholic Relief Services.

[N.B. Did you know that about 8% of the Church Offertory Collection goes to the chancery and a portion of that goes to the USCCB? You help to pay for that monstrosity on 4th Street in D.C. every time you drop your envelope in the basket. Want out? Give to the parish through their development fund.]

Something tells me that working with the Virginia Catholic Conference is NOT in my future.


Chriss Rainey said...

I have often heard people say, "Stop giving them your money," meaning the bishops, but few understand that all 1st collections in every parish is "taxed" 8% by the diocese.

We are told that it is pur duty and obligation to support "the work" being done by the diocese, but we are never told what % of the 8% is sent to the USCCB, which has its own agenda and "works" which we may well find great reason to object.

Each of these WEEKLY 8% contributions from every parish adds up to a lot of money over time.

Not to mention the 100% they receive in the annual Lenten Appeal. It is not easy to decide to "pull the plug" on "the good works" done on the diocesan level, but neither do we want to be a party to what we know is simply WRONG even in the tiniest way.

Can we say for every dollar I contribute, only 1 cents goes for condoms, so that is OK with me?

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

From Facebook
Thank you, Mary Ann! This is an excellent article that points out the flaws of backing these groups, which add another layer of cost to the administration of the Dioceses (Arlington and Richmond) , and accomplish very little. Since its inception, this group has grown in number (mostly lawyers) and in cost. And we still have Senator Kaine working against us. The State/Federal "gray overlap" is extremely problematic and this group remains/operates square in the middle of it....

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

You can still support the good work the diocese does. For example, send money directly to the seminary of support a local seminarian. One can also give directly to the free clinic or Christ House. There is no need to do it through the collection or the Bishops Lenten Appeal at all.

To McFadden (Sr.) said...

The VCC is twice as bad as you said but maybe it needs someone smart like you who is on the "inside." In addition to being a lobby for a bigger welfare state at the expense of working families, the VCC is so incompetently run by its skill- deficient but long-time director Jeff Caruso that it has no chance of getting any pro-life legislation past the veto of a Democrat Governor. Caruso is the one who prevents any parish-level political activity that is really effective. He needs to go because we have to defeat that scoundrel Tim Kaine in November and Caruso is too aligned with Democrats to do anything useful. The VCC's position on illegal immigrants makes it a surrogate for Shumer and Pelosi.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I appreciate your confidence, Tom, but that's like putting a toothpick in the hole in the dike. I had an email exchange with a former employee. The VCC follows the USCCB and he said 95% of what they support are matters of prudential judgment rather than intrinsic moral issues. They accord with the bishops' liberal agenda. VCC also networks with VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement), the Alinsky group that supports the Industrial Areas Foundation, and with Virginia Interfaith Center. Working with the VCC would be like thinking I could change the Third Reich by getting a job as a secretary in Hitler's headquarters. I can't in good conscience advance their liberal agenda.

I want to see the USCCB and groups like VCC eliminated. I think they are beyond help. Besides, the bishops have no business doing it. It's the job of the laity. Money donated by folks in the pew should be going to legitimate clerical functions to promote the faith and educate and serve the poor directly (not by lobbying for federal money). Let's be honest, the major issue with these lobby groups is to keep the government money flowing to the Church. I feel like pro-life is used as a front while they switch bait to get their liberal issues through. I have better things to do with my time than bang my head against a wall of the evil bureaucracy.