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Wednesday January 6, 2010

CCHD, San Fran Archdiocse Supported Abortion-Funding Health Plan

By Patrick B. Craine

SAN FRANCISCO, California, January 6, 2010 ( – Members of Reform CCHD Now, a coalition of Catholic groups seeking a renewal of the bishops’ domestic anti-poverty arm (the Catholic Campaign for Human Development), have unearthed what they say is an “irony” in the organization’s treatment of the issue of health care.

The pro-life coalition has pointed out that at the same time as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is working hard to keep abortion funding out of the national health care bill, the CCHD, the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and Archbishop George Niederauer have persisted in supporting an organization that successfully lobbied for two municipal universal health plans that fund contraception and abortion.

In fact, Reform CCHD Now (RCN) says that this support has had an important impact on the national health care debate: one of the health plans, promoted by the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP), has been held up as a model for national health care reform, even winning praise from President Obama.

SFOP has been slated for a grant of $35,000 from CCHD, despite a November report by Rob Gasper of the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM), which revealed that SFOP has prided itself on winning support for two health clinics, and that these clinics provide contraception and (abortifacient) emergency contraception. Without contradicting the evidence, the national CCHD office exonerated the organization, on the basis that SFOP has the support of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The Archdiocese, explained CCHD, “strongly supports the work of [SFOP] to expand access to health care to children.” Both Cardinal William Levada, formerly Archbishop of San Francisco, now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Niederauer have spoken at SFOP events, they said, and the organization has “met regularly with Archdiocesan staff to coordinate work on health care access and other issues that affect the poor and immigrant families.”

BVM and American Life League (ALL), another RCN member, have now revealed, however, that SFOP has also been a key player in developing two health care programs in San Francisco that offer abortion and contraceptive services. According to ALL, “it is perfectly clear and completely undeniable that SFOP is actively involved in promoting abortion and birth control, in direct violation of Catholic Church teaching and CCHD guidelines.”

First, SFOP worked with the San Francisco Health Plan (SFHP) to secure the adoption of the Healthy Kids (HK) program, which provides universal health care for children. SFOP’s role was considerable, as their efforts were even mentioned in a city resolution supporting a similar statewide program. They also have been credited with enrolling 2,000 children in the city initiative.

According to the SFHP website, “family planning” services are offered to San Francisco’s youth through HK. These services include both contraception and “elective abortions.”

California’s bishops also backed the statewide HK bill, despite its commitment to abortion and contraception. According to the public record, the California Catholic Conference offered arguments in favour of the bill, supporting it alongside Catholic Charities of California, the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, and Catholic Healthcare West. The Conference sided against the California Right to Life Committee, who, as the sole opposition to the bill, argued “that teenage girls will be brought into government-funded programs promoting birth control and abortion services without parental consent.”

SFOP also prides itself on securing the implementation of Healthy San Francisco (HSF), a pioneer universal health care program begun two years ago that is intended to serve the city’s uninsured residents. Community Catalyst, a national non-profit dedicated to promoting health care access, lists SFOP as a key player in rallying support for the program, alongside ACORN and others. Like HK, HSF also provides abortion, contraception, and (abortifacient) emergency contraception.

“The Archdiocese of San Francisco and the CCHD continue to flash their pro-life credentials, but how do they explain the glowing endorsement both gave for the SFOP’s involvement in the pro-abortion Healthy San Francisco and Healthy Kids programs?” asks Michael Hichborn of ALL. “The USCCB has called the pro-abortion provisions in the National Health Care bill ‘unacceptable,’ and yet these provisions are similar to those in the Healthy San Francisco plan, which the Archdiocese of San Francisco supported through the efforts of SFOP.”

The Archdiocese of San Francisco’s support for SFOP is deep, as the national CCHD office indicated. They are listed on SFOP’s website as a partner, along with nearly a dozen Catholic parishes, and nine Catholic churches are listed as having SFOP organizing committees. The Archdiocese lists an SFOP employee, Sarah Nolan, as their Parish Organizer/Outreach Coordinator, giving her SFOP e-mail address.

Being the first universal health care program of its kind in the U.S., numerous sources, including media and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, have touted Healthy San Francisco as a model for national health care reform. In a February address to the nation’s mayors, President Obama praised Newsom, saying “Instead of just talking about health care, mayors like Gavin Newsom in San Francisco have been ensuring that those in need receive it.”

Other key players have taken notice as well. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has met with Mayor Newsom about the city’s health care experience, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, representative for San Francisco, has supported Newsom in his efforts.

“Essentially, the current health care package Congress is trying to ram down our throats drew heavy inspiration from the Healthy San Francisco plan,” Hichborn observed. “So we have the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the CCHD, and the California Catholic Conference to thank for this mess!”

In his most recent report on SFOP, Bellarmine Ministry’s Rob Gasper asks that the Archdiocese clarify its positions regarding the two health plans promoted by SFOP. “Without such action, Catholics may become confused due to the appearance of disagreement between the USCCB and San Francisco Archdiocese regarding support for health care reform which includes abortion funding,” he writes.

“We expect the Archdiocese of San Francisco and CCHD to consider the facts and begin the process of severing ties with SFOP immediately,” said Hichborn, “and await Bishop Morin’s correction for calling our accusations ‘outrageous’ and ‘untruthful.’”

See the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry report.

See American Life League’s full listing of the evidence collected regarding CCHD grantees.

See related coverage:

San Francisco Archdiocese Reinvestigates, Approves Pro-Abortion CCHD Grantee

CCHD Responds to Reform Movement

Call for Reform of U.S. Bishops’ CCHD Bolstered by New Evidence