Catholic Bishops Tell Senators to Support Nelson Amdt Banning Abortion Funding
by Steven Ertelt
December 7, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The nation’s Catholic bishops sent a letter to lawmakers today urging them to support the newly-introduced Nelson amendment to ban abortion funding in the Senate government-run health care bill. The amendment is supported by a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers but is expected to be defeated.
The letter says the Nelson-Hatch amendment includes "essential changes to the health care reform bill to ensure that needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all."
"We urgently ask you to support an essential amendment to be offered … to keep in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy against government funding of health coverage that includes elective abortions," the USCCB letter adds. "It simply ensures that where federal funds are involved, people are not required to pay for other peoples abortions."
The new letter is signed by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the new chair of the Committee on Pro-life Activities; Reverend William F. Murphy, the chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Most Reverend John Wester, the Bishop of Salt Lake City.
"Sadly, the current Senate bill fails to keep in place the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions or health plans that include elective abortions," the letter explains, pointing out that abortion funding limits have been placed in other federal health programs — and the House bill — but not the Senate health care bill.
"We believe legislation that violates this moral principle is not true health care reform and must be amended to reflect the Hyde restrictions. If that fails, the current legislation should be opposed," the new letter says.
The letter notes the bill currently before the Senate allows the HHS Secretary to mandate abortion coverage throughout the government-run community health insurance option.
"It also provides funding for other plans that cover unlimited abortions, and creates an unprecedented mandatory ‘abortion surcharge’ in such plans that will require pro-life purchasers to pay directly and explicitly for other peoples abortions," the bishops write.
"The bill does not maintain essential nondiscrimination protections for providers who decline involvement in abortion. The Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment simply corrects these grave departures from current federal policy," the continue. "We believe health care legislation must respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers, and others, not violate them."
The letter does not promise that the Catholic bishops will support the legislation if the Nelson amendment is adopted, and points out that conscience, rationing and other pro-life concerns remain.
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