Catholic Bishops Tell Congress: Fix House Health Care Bill, it Funds Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Tell Congress: Fix House Health Care Bill, it Funds Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 12
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Saying that the current version of the health care bill pending in the House would undermine historic laws preventing taxpayer funding of abortion, the nation’s Catholic bishops sent members of Congress their third letter on Tuesday asking that abortion funding be excluded.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia urged preservation of “longstanding federal policies that prevent government promotion of abortion and respect conscience rights," in the new missive.

He called current House health care legislation “seriously deficient” on the issue of mandated coverage and funding of abortion.

Rigali is the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities and he reaffirmed the bishops’ position that genuine health care reform that respects life and dignity is urgently needed.

He criticized the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3200) for delegating to the Secretary of Health and Human Services “the power to make unlimited abortion a mandated benefit in the ‘public health insurance plan’ the government will manage nationwide.”

The Catholic official called this a “radical change” since federal law excludes most abortions from federal employees’ health benefits, and no federal health program mandates coverage of elective abortions.

Cardinal Rigali also criticized the bill for bypassing the Hyde Amendment and other longstanding provisions that prevent federal funding of abortion and health benefits packages that include abortion.

He commented on the Capps Amendment that the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved that abortion advocates claim will stop abortion funding a “legal fiction."

Rigali said the amendment would force low-income Americans, who may only be able to afford the public plan, to subsidize abortions for others “even if they find abortion morally abhorrent.”

“Much-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an ‘abortion rights’ agenda or reversing longstanding policies against federal funding and mandated coverage of abortion,” Cardinal Rigali wrote.

He added that “no federal program mandates coverage for elective abortions, or subsidizes health plans that include such abortions. Most Americans do not want abortion in their health coverage, and most consider themselves ‘pro-life,’ with a stronger majority among low-income Americans.”

“By what right, then, and by what precedent, would Congress make abortion coverage into a nationwide norm, or force Americans to subsidize it as a condition for participating in a public health program?” he asked.

He urged members of the House to support amendments to correct the “unacceptable features” currently in H.R. 3200 and to oppose any rule for considering the bill that would block such amendments.

At the end of July, the bishops wrote a second letter to Congress, with Rigali authoring that one as well.

A first letter came from Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Policy, who wrote to Congress on July 17.

Related web sites:
USCCB Pro-Life Office –

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