Hitting the Great Divide

The abortion issue, mostly ignored for months, suddenly threatens the outlook for Clinton's plan

The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. were supporting Bill Clinton's health plan years before he was born. Universal coverage? In 1919 they wrote, "The state should make comprehensive provision for insurance against illness, invalidity . . . and old age." Employer mandate? They stated that the "insurance fund should be raised by a levy on industry." Sometimes dubbed socialists for their troubles, the bishops defended these radical notions for the next 75 years.

Yet last week, as variations on the Clinton plan started heading toward compromise in Congress, the church dealt the process a sharp blow. Noting...

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