« Swine flu update: nearly 10,000 deaths | Main | Health departments hand out flu shots to everyone »

December 11, 2009

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend enters the health reform fray on abortion

Maryland's former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend takes aim at American Catholic Bishops' support of restricting abortion funding in health care reform legislation.

In this fiery Op-Ed in the Politico, published just before the Senate defeated an amendment this week that would place new abortion restrictions in the health care bill, she lashes out at bishops she says have "lost their way."

Why is it that the bishops are more concerned with restricting millions of American women from making health care decisions that are best for them and their families than they are with ensuring that millions of Americans — women, men, children, immigrants, the poor, the middle class — get much-needed health insurance?

As a Catholic and neice to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a health care reform champion, she seems to take the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops actions personally. The influential bishops have emerged as a force in the health care debate, heavilly lobbying lamwakers and sending alerts to followers urging them to support the Senate amendment.

Townsend urges the bishops not to let the single issue of abortion prevent what she sees as a moral imperative of expanding health care to those who need it most.

This isn't the first time she's spoken out on the issue

Her thoughts echo this LA Times column, which warns health care reform is in jeopardy of being "made hostage to this most divisive of issues." While the Senate defeated the amendment, the House version of the bill includes restrictions on federal funding of abortions. The issue could imperil passage of a health care bill, The Hill reports.

And yet, others -- beyond the bishops and their followers -- argue they simply cannot support reform that does not include restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

So, Picture of Health readers, weigh in on this. What do you make of the tug of war over abortion in health reform? I'm intrigued to know your thoughts on this explosive topic. 

Baltimore Sun photo

Posted by Kelly Brewington at 7:22 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Health care reform


I read Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's op-ed piece on the Politico website and silently cheered as my Catholic colleague showed her courage in speaking out on this issue. The hierarchy and those who speak for it doubtless will condemn her, but she has articulates the views of millions of us who believe that moral choices involve more than absolutist slogans.

Hooray for KKT. The Bishops have always wanted to control women and their sexuality. Why didn't the Bishops speak out strongly against engaging in war with Afghanistan and Iraq? Instead, Bush got the pope's blessing for this insanity.

The Bishops would be better served by trying to control their priests and THEIR sexuality. Exactly HOW many pedophile priests did RC Bishops protect? And what about that Canadian Bishop from Nova Scotia whose computer was full of child porn?

Furthermore, as a public charity, the RC church has no business engaging in lobbying for or against an amendment to a specific bill.

KKT is a hypocrite. If passing the reform is such a moral impaitative then why muddy it up with such a controversial issue? Instead of attacking the bishops why not take the common sense approach of leaving abortion out. Pass what everyone can agree on instead of using those without healthcare as a trojan horse to push through federal funding for abortion. The Church has just as much right to lobby as groups like planned parenthood who receive tax payer funds.

Next the bishops will want to make sure there is no coverage for birth control pills/devices either. Regardless of your view, religion has no place in a health insurance debate. If it is legal it should be covered. If you want to make abortion illegal, there is a path for that (which so far has failed)


Any public policy or law based in a religious credo is problematic at best and probably unconstitutional on that basis alone.

Don't want to have an abortion? Fine; then don't have one.
But don't try to tell my sister or daughter that because of YOUR religious views they can't be allowed to have that option.

As to the public costs involved...

The bishops are trying to prevent people from committing what they believe is murder. You may not agree with them on this issue, but wouldn't you do the same if you were in their shoes. They believe it's a mortal sin and that they are morally obligated to speak out, just as others with opposing views have spoken out.

What I have never understood is how Roman Catholics can differ with the Pope and the church hierarchy on so many social issues (abortion, birth control, divorce, premarital sex, homosexuality, etc.) and remain Catholics. How can you not feel like a hypocrite in church when you disagree on so many issues? I know I did, which is why I left and joined the Missouri Synod Lutheran church many years ago. Most Catholics (and members of other faiths) did not choose their church. Rather, they were born into the religion because that's what their parents' religion was. Wouldn't it be wise to join a church where the church hierarchy has the same belief system that you do?

I dont care what the church thinks,I dont want my tax dollars paying for killing babies.Let the guys causing all the pregnanacy pay for for the abortions!!af

Oh my mistake, there was no Governor Townsend, and anti-Catholic grandstanding like this is one reason why. Like her uncle and cousins, she thinks Catholic is a campaign button that she can toss on and off when she pleases. But I'll leave her with a thought-- if health care is that important to the Kennedys why haven't they donated all of their excess millions (including the Palm Beach estates) to help poor people. The Kennedy can pay for all of the abortions they want, but why should those of us who believe it to be genocide be forced to fund it. Choice what you want, but at least have the ethics to do it in your own name only with your own money!

KKT and her family had bishops like Cardinals O'Connell and Cushing pimping for them for decades, to cover up the rum running, the organized crime ties, the mistresses, and the political bullying. Now, when a few bishops dare to question their pro-abortion sellout, they scream like stuck pigs. KKT is only committing the moral sin of pride, nothing new on that score with the Kennedys.

How did we arrive at the point where the legal right to murder her child is a woman's Health Care Benefit? I guess most men will agree with anything to get some peace, huh.

Hurray for the Catholic Bishops! There's a group that won't be swayed by Kennedy name or money. You CAN'T be Catholic and agree with the murder of innocent babies via abortion. What says it all about the integrity of KKT is that in this far liberal state of Maryland she LOST to a republican, in spite of Kennedy money being pumped into the state. So much for the intelligence and integrity of KKT when a Blue State refuses a Kennedy.The all time best bumper sticker in the history of politics: "IF KENNEDY WINS, YOU LOSE" The Kennedy's, the biggest hypocrites in America. Teddy didn't give a damn about anything but his own fat drunken political arse after Chappaquiddick, so why should KKT care about innocent babies? Once again, HURRAY for the Catholic Bishops!


Any public policy or law based in a religious credo is problematic at best and probably unconstitutional on that basis alone.

Don't want to have an abortion? Fine; then don't have one.
But don't try to tell my sister or daughter that because of YOUR religious views they can't be allowed to have that option.

As to the public costs involved...

Posted by: MrRational | December 11, 2009 2:53 PM

You say that 'any law based in a religious credo is problematic at best, and probably unconstitutional?" Hmmm, let's see. I sort of remember some very famous historical document that said something about rights being "endowed by their CREATOR, that LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...."
Contrary to what you and KKT may think, the CREATOR in question is NOT named Kennedy. Then there is that word "LIFE" that's included too. Let's not forget that every single session of Congress opens with a prayer too. Also the Constitution reads : Congress shall make no law...(establishing a religion...) Last I checked Congress has never done that. Even though the country was founded on Christian beliefs (just read your history), that doesn't stop a Jewish prayer from being said in Congress, nor for that matter, one from Islam. Doesn't sound like Congress is making any law establishing one religion there. Congress shall make NO doesn't read that NO religion shall be practiced.

Now, since you're obviously an expert on Constitutional Law, find me the word "abortion" in the document' better yet, find the phrase "seperation of Church and State"' if you really want to do some homework, try to find the word "privacy." No doubt you won't believe me when I tell you that you won't find any of those in the Constitution, so feel free to read it yourself. Many Constitutional scholars have written the ruling in Roe v Wade was invalid. If I am not mistaken I believe even one or two of the justices who ruled in favor of Roe v. Wade have recently said so. Now for another FACT that obviously KKT and the abortion fans aren't aware of, or if they are refuse to say so, is that if (actually I should say when, not if, but I digress)...if Roe v Wade is every overturned, it will NOT outlaw abortion. Repeat, will NOT. What it will do is revert the law to pre-Roe v Wade, meaning that it will revert to it being up to each individual state to decide to be a pro abortion state or not. (Ahh, true Democracy in action! Why would any pro abortion person be against true Democracy in action? So, Maryland, being as far left, but not as near far left as California, no doubt would keep abortion on the books. Why are all the pro abortion people like the Kennedys against having the people vote yay or nay on the matter?

One last thing to you, KKT and all the readers on this blog:

Why does anyone care what the Kennedys' think, say, do, or endorse? Their era is over and none too soon. As an American Irish Catholic, the Kennedys' caused me equal parts embarrassment and pride. Since the assassinations of Jack and Bobby, it's mostly been embarrassment. The shining exception, of course, is Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics - an organization which values the dignity of the human spirit. Ms. Townsend is the antithesis of her aunt philosophically. She endorses the most nascent form of domestic violence: abortion. Trying to spin abortion as a health care choice is disingenuous at best. Where are the stats that prove that the majority of women or their babies have life-threatening conditions which would necessitate an abortion? They don't exist - because most abortions happen in the first trimester and are abortions of convenience for the mother. (see
or )

Stand firm, Catholic Bishops.

Perhaps all the religious blowhards above, who don't seem to have a problem in using the coercive power of the state to force their superstitious beliefs on all of us, don't realize that their unwillingness to pay for abortions in any health care plan that is adopted could come back to bit them in the....well, you know.

Personally, I find it highly offensive that my tax money was used by the Bush regime to launch a preemptive attack against Iraq, that was perpetrated by using distortions and outright lies, all because their corporate masters wanted it. There is no doubt that hundreds of thousands of fully actualized and self aware fetuses were aborted during that misuse of our public funds, yet I don't see any grass roots level outrage at those abortions being publicly funded by any of the currently popular ultimate truths (religions), with the exception of the Muslims we were mostly aborting there.

Maybe my outrage that so much in public funds is being used to further religion here, could be used to deny further transference of public monies to say, transporting religious students to schools, where they are religiously indoctrinated, not to mention the fact that the taxes not being paid by religion on all that prime property upon which their churches sit, has to be subsidized by the government forcing everyone else to pay a higher rate to make up for the loss.

There are so many ways that religion benefits financially at the public trough in this country, that in all truth skirt the spirit and meaning of separation of church and state, that could be raised in retaliation for your insistence that poor women must be denied these necessary services. We all pay for things we do not support in this country and if you demand the right to be excluded from obligations we are all required to honor for the public good, or in some cases the public bad (like Iraq), then maybe we should start taking a much more critical look at how religion is hooked up to the public teat.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
  • Health & Wellness newsletter
Your weekly dose of health news, tips and events for Maryland
See a sample | Sign up

Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Charm City Current
Stay connected