Catholics for Choice Backs Pro-Abortion Health Care Bills After Bishops’ Caution

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholics for Choice Backs Pro-Abortion Health Care Bills After Bishops’ Caution

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 7
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A pro-abortion "Catholic" group has issued a statement supporting the pro-abortion health care bills in Congress on the heels of concerns from the nation’s Catholic bishops. "Catholics for Choice" admits that it is out of step with the leaders of the Church, who are worried about abortion funding.

Jon O’Brien, president of the dissident group, conceded that "our vision for healthcare reform is different than the US bishops and their conservative allies."

He accused the bishops and pro-life groups of seeking to "marginalize issues of reproductive health-as if people’s reproductive health can be separated from their overall health" — a statement that links abortion to health care.

O’Brien sets out a list of statements his group supports and goes as far on abortion as the bishops and pro-life groups worry the final bill will go.

"We believe that abortion should be federally funded and covered by all insurance companies," the "Catholics for Choice" group says, backing taxpayer-funded abortions and coverage mandates.

The organization attempted to paint the majority of Americans who are pro-life on abortion as a "small but vocal minority" despite polls showing a majority of Americans are pro-life and oppose most abortions.

"The time has come to focus this debate on people’s healthcare needs, not the agenda of a minority lobby, and make room for common sense reform that will truly benefit everyone in the United States," O’Brien claimed.

The nation’s Catholic bishops have released three letters to Congress asking that abortions not be funded in any health care reform bill.

Last month, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia urged preservation of “longstanding federal policies that prevent government promotion of abortion and respect conscience rights."

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.”

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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