Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), in a November 9 op-ed on the Politico Web site, said that in light of heavy pressure from USCCB against federal funding for abortion, the Internal Revenue Service should investigate whether the organization exceeded the limitations of its tax-exempt status – a move that could lead the Internal Revenue Service to revoke that status.
Woolsey's comments came after USCCB lobbied pro-life Democrats to support the efforts of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who sponsored an amendment prohibiting federal funding of abortion through any of the health insurance subsidies created by the House health care bill.[...]
Woolsey – who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus – said the USCCB should have stayed out of the legislative process: "The role the bishops played in the pushing of the Stupak amendment, which unfairly restricts access for low-income women to insurance coverage of abortion, was more than mere advocacy," she wrote in the Politico piece.
Woolsey said the IRS should treat the bishops' lobbying efforts with the same scrutiny it applies to religious groups that involve themselves in elections. Non-profits, including religious groups, are prohibited from taking sides in political campaigns and can lose their tax-exempt status if they do.
"The IRS is less restrictive about church involvement in efforts to influence legislation than it is about involvement in campaigns and elections," Woolsey admitted. "Given the political behavior of USCCB in this case, maybe it shouldn't be."