Individual Catholic Bishops Speak Out Against Pro-Abortion Health Care Bills

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Individual Catholic Bishops Speak Out Against Pro-Abortion Health Care Bills

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 1
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The nation’s Catholic bishops have spoken collectively against the pro-abortion health care bills pending in Congress. Now, individual bishops are beginning to speak out and to urge elected official to focus on promoting health care not rationing and abortion funding.

Bishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa issued a message on Tuesday that has pro-life Catholics cheering.

The upshot? No health care "reform" is better than a restructuring that forces abortion funding or mandates.

"First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research," Nickless writes. "We refuse to allow our own parish, school, and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils."

The bishop is also concerned about the effect a government-run health care system would have on the thousands of Americans who are pro-life medical workers.

"As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health care providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have," Nickless added.

The bishop also sought to make it clear that "the Catholic Church does not teach that ‘health care’ as such, without distinction, is a natural right" and "the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care."

But when it comes to political rights, Nickless says rationing can’t be a component of any plan Congress approves.

"We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth," he says.

Nickless describes how abortion actually makes it more difficult to allow universal access to health care.

"Without a growing population of youth, our growing population of retirees is outstripping our distribution systems," he explains. "In a culture of death such as we have now, taxation to redistribute costs of medical care becomes both unjust and unsustainable."

He says the main bill in the House, HR 3200 "does not meet" the pro-life standards he and his colleagues have set forth.

"As Cardinal Justin Rigali has written for the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, this bill circumvents the Hyde amendment (which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions) by drawing funding from new sources not covered by the Hyde amendment, and by creatively manipulating how federal funds covered by the Hyde amendment are accounted," he explained.

The Senate HELP bill "also does not meet the first standard of explicitly excluding mandatory abortion coverage."

Nickless has encouragement for pro-life advocates.

"I encourage all of you to make your voice heard to our representatives in Congress. Tell them what they need to hear from us: No health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform," he says. "Insist that they not permit themselves to be railroaded into the current too-costly and pro-abortion health care proposals. Insist on their support for proposals that respect the life and dignity of every human person, especially the unborn."

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Fargo, North Dakota, Samuel J. Aquila, has written a letter calling for “genuine health care reform.”

“True health care begins with the unborn child in the womb,” he explained. “When a given plan to provide care fails to protect that life, it is no longer animated by a source of truth and justice, thus it will not, and cannot, flourish.”

Abortion "has nothing to do with promoting health," he says.

The bishop agreed with his Iowa colleague that protecting conscience rights is key.
“The doctors, nurses and health care professionals who possess such medical expertise are prime candidates for coercion from those who would destroy the most vulnerable human lives. The right to follow one’s conscience, as informed by God, must be guaranteed,” he stated.

“In no way should taxpayers or policy holders be forced to participate in plans, whether private or public, which fund procedures that violate the moral precepts of the faith," he continued.

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