Why Are the Bishops Forcing the Issue of Healthcare?

Deal W. Hudson
August 13, 2009

If ever there were a time when Catholics should not trust the United States government, it is now. The president, his administration, and the congressional leadership are removing all the abortion restrictions put in place since Roe v. Wade. And yet, the bishops are backing a proposal to give the federal government complete control over the healthcare of every American citizen.

Abortion is not the only reason Catholics should have deep misgivings about giving the government even more control over their lives. The healthcare bill itself provides evidence of how “reform” will extend that control in ways contrary to the basic tenets of faith.

In addition to abortion coverage, which the bishops have publicly opposed, there is the “end-of-life” coverage, a nice euphemism for potential euthanasia counseling, and the voluntary “Home Visitation Programs for Families with Young Children and Families Expecting Children” in section 440.

This federal program is another version of the Education Begins at Home Act, which was introduced in 2008 and 2009 by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO). It provides “parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains… modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices; [and] skills to interact with their child… ”

The idea of encouraging the government to teach us “parenting skills” is abhorrent. The Church emphasizes the primacy of parents in raising their children. In Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II wrote:

The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life… It is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others…

Anyone who thinks programs like home visitation are benign should note what Phyllis Schlafly points out: One of the stated purposes of home visitation is “increasing birth intervals between pregnancies,” which “reminds us of China’s policies to reduce childbirth by married couples.” It also addresses “child abuse, neglect, and injury,” thus “giving more authority to the already too powerful Child Protective Services.”

The healthcare takeover is the perfect vehicle for extending government control of the lives of individuals and families. It took the healthcare debate to wake people up. Only then did the public react to the sudden surge in government control that began with the takeover of many banks.

The boisterous town hall meetings around the country are not only about healthcare per se; they are a resurgence of the long-held American fear of governmental power and control. This fear is integral to Catholic social teaching as well and articulated by its core principle of subsidiarity. In Centesimus Annus, John Paul II argued that the government assistance state” leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”

It appears that members of Congress are now listening to these protesting voices, but are the Catholic bishops? As a friend wrote to me, “The good bishops have also ignored the mounting discontent in the streets with Catholic hierarchy pushing this most unpopular federal takeover of healthcare.” There is increasing evidence on the Internet and in the media that Catholics are feeling the same sense of frustration and anger we are witnessing at the town hall events.

Many Catholics are asking, “Why are the Catholic bishops trying to force this issue?”

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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