Catholic Bishops Back Stupak Amendment No Health Care Bill OK Yet

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 6, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Back Stupak Amendment No Health Care Bill OK Yet

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 6
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The nation’s Catholic bishops are urging support for the Stupak amendment that would ban abortion funding in the health care reform bill, HR 3962, and say they will endorse the measure if it is added. The bishops initial opposition to the bill without the amendment has been cited as the main reason for allowing a vote on it.

In a new letter signed by Cardinal Justin Rigali, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities, and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, they ask for approval of the Stupak measure.

The letter says it considers the amendment an "essential improvement in health care reform legislation."

"Despite some claims to the contrary, H.R. 3962 does not reflect the status quo on abortion. It fails to explicitly and clearly include the longstanding policy prohibiting federal funding of elective abortion and plans which include elective abortion," they say.

"Currently H.R. 3962 has some helpful provisions on conscience protection and non-preemption of state laws, but it utterly fails to maintain current prohibitions on abortion mandates and abortion funding," they add in the letter provided to

The bishops also complain that H.R. 3962 allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to mandate that the "public option" will include unlimited abortions.

"Millions of purchasers will be forced to pay an ‘abortion surcharge,’ which requires purchasers of many plans to pay directly and explicitly for abortion coverage. This is unprecedented in federal law," they write.

The bishops have also said they will support the health care bill if the Stupak amendment is added.

“Passing this amendment allows the House to meet our criteria of preserving the existing protections against abortion funding in the new legislation,” the bishops write. "The Conference will remain vigilant and involved through this entire process to assure that these essential provisions are maintained and included in the final legislation."

"With this important step forward we hope the House can come together and finally move forward essential reform which truly will protect the life, dignity, conscience and health of all. We also hope the Senate will follow the example of the House and include these essential safeguards in their version of health care reform legislation, the added.

In multiple interview, Richard Doerflinger, the associate director of the USCCB’s pro-life office, confirmed the bishops have cautioned that they are not endorsing the bill without the addition of the Stupak amendment.

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