The Conference of Catholic Bishops is not technically a lobbying organization — churches are tax-exempt, and they don’t have to disclose publicly how much money they put toward lobbying. According to the IRS, a 501(c)(3) organization like the Conference can speak out on moral issues as much as it wants, but “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities.” […]
[However,] the bishops were not only influential in swaying votes during health care reform debate; [Richard] Doerflinger said they actually helped Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) write the controversial anti-abortion amendment, which the House approved by a vote of 290 to 194.
“Those bishops were literally sitting in Bart Stupak’s office and, from what we could tell, instructing him all about the laws he should be supporting, and the text of the laws, and the strategy of getting them through,” said Terry O’Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women. “It was absolutely appalling.”
The National Organization for Women has called for the bishops conference to lose its tax-exempt status over its lobbying activities[…]
“The bishops are entirely out of sync with the people they purport to represent,” said Donna Crane, NARAL’s policy director. “All the polling and public opinion research is very clear: Catholics are majority pro-choice. They hold that belief, they use the services and they just aren’t in agreement with the hierarchy on these issues.” […]
O’Neill finds it troubling that a group of men that has historically denied women the opportunity to participate in leadership positions is exercising so much power over such a broad range of women’s reproductive health legislation.
“Clearly there’s a problem when men take such an interest in the sexual function of women,” she said. “There’s something deeply off about it.”
As always, it is important to recognize that women are not the only ones who can get pregnant, and that in many ways, those who do not identify as women, yet can get pregnant, are in even more danger from the Conference and their political allies.