In a move that's impressive only in its short-sighted idiocy, the Iowa state Senate has appointed a Catholic priest to its Board of Medicine. The priest swears up and down that he'll make recommendations based on what's prudent to state law and not what the Pope tells him to do, but pro-abortion rights folk aren't convinced that he won't use this opportunity to try to shove Catholicism into Iowa's crotch. Does this mean that the state will soon appoint a scientist to oversee the activities of churches and evaluate claims made by religious officials based on whether or not they can be verified using scientific evidence? No? Okay.
The state's Republican Governor Terry Branstad had originally nominated the frothingly anti-abortion Colleen Pasnik, former director of Family Life Office for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, but that move was roundly rejected by Senate Democrats. And so the Governor nominated Monsignor Frank Bognanno, an actual Catholic cleric. The State Senate ran out of time to consider his nomination, and so he just sort of slid into a spot on the Board of Medicine, where he'll serve temporarily until the Senate reconvenes early next year. Compromise!
Bognanno swears up and down that he won't use his position as a Catholic priest to attempt to make the Board of Medicine into a proxy for the Church, but that if there's room for interpretation in a rule or law, he'll come down on the "pro-life" side. For a refresher: Catholics consider "pro-life" to encompass not only outlawing abortion in all but the most extreme cases, but also barring access to the Morning After Pill and other hormonal contraception. The Church also believes In Vitro Fertilization to be a grave sin, as it causes embryos to be destroyed. Just picture "personhood" and a funny hat on it — that's Catholicism's view.
Maybe someday doctors will discover a groundbreaking new technique that allows them to remove the Church from government regulation of health care. But it probably won't be on Monsignor Bognanno's watch.