How the tables have turned.

Not so long ago, Democrats in Congress were blaming pro-lifers for sacrificing the good of health care reform to an ideological stand on abortion.

Now that 64 House Democrats — 25 percent — have voted “yes” on the Stupak amendment banning federal funding for abortion in the proposed health care regime, it i s pro-choicers’ turn to play the part of obstructionist.

And they’re blaming the Catholic Church.

“It was an unconscionable power play,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. According to reports, she accused the U.S. bishops of “interceding to put their own ideology in the national health care plan.” More than 40 House Democrats have already announced they will vote against any final health-reform bill that prohibits abortion funding.

And the spin has begun. Pro-choicers are casting Stupak as a limitation on women’s health care — a ridiculous assertion, unless you support taxpayer-subsidized abortions. (Under Stupak, women covered by government-subsidized plans would have to pay for abortions out of their own pocket or buy supplemental insurance.)

Even President Barack Obama seems to have bought into that duplicity. In an interview with ABC News, he renewed his pledge against “sneaking in funding for abortions , ” but said the Stupak provision “needs more work” so that “we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices.”

But Stupak manifestly and clearly does not limit women’s choices — it simply says taxpayers don’t have to pick up the bill for those choices.

Efforts by pro-choice lobbyists to force Americans to fund abortions betrays a frightening imposition of raw — and minority — ideology .

While Catholic lobbying was instrumental in passing Stupak, this is not Catholics’ “own ideology.” According to a recent nationwide poll, 67 percent of Americans oppose requiring people to pay for abortion coverage through their taxes. And today a majority of Americans now describe themselves as pro-life.

American Catholics, and their bishops, have long been at the forefront of advocating for a more equitable, affordable, universal health care system — this, too, is a basic life issue.

The U.S. bishop’s conference president, Chicago Cardinal Francis George, released a statement thanking lawmakers who took this “courageous and principled step” to prevent abortion funding, and said the bishops would “remain vigilant and involved throughout this entire process,” which involves several more votes in House and Senate likely before the end of the year.

“We bishops do not claim or present ourselves as experts on health care policy,” the cardinal said. “We are not prepared to assess every provision of legislation as complex as this proposal. However, health care legislation, with all its political, technical and economic aspects, is about human beings and hence has serious moral dimensions. ... We believe our nation’s health care system needs reform which protects human life and dignity and serves the poor and vulnerable as a moral imperative and an urgent national priority.”

Much remains to be done to ensure that health care reform serves the poor and vulnerable, and protects the conscience of health care workers and facilities.

Contact your senator and the White House. To send an instant e-mail to your lawmaker, go to www.usccb.org/action.