Catholic Bishops Blast Nelson Abortion Amdt Defeat, Stop Short of Opposing Bill

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

Catholic Bishops Blast Nelson Abortion Amdt Defeat, Stop Short of Opposing Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 9
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The nation’s Catholic bishops are disappointed by yesterday’s Senate vote to defeat the Nelson amendment to remove the abortion funding from the health care bill. However, they stopped short of asking senators to defeat the bill itself — holding out hope that the legislation will ultimately not fund abortions.

“The Senate vote to table the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment is a grave mistake and a serious blow to genuine health care reform,” Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops, told in a statement.

George said the Senate is ignoring "the will of the American people in failing to incorporate longstanding prohibitions on federal funding for abortion and plans that include abortion."

Cardinal George continued: “While we deplore the Senate’s refusal to adopt the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment, we remain hopeful that the protections overwhelmingly passed by the House will be incorporated into needed reform legislation."

The pro-life Catholic leader did make it clear that the USCCB could potentially oppose the health care bill if the final version, the one that will eventually emerge from a House-Senate conference committee if the Senate bill is approved, funds abortions.

"Failure to exclude abortion funding will turn allies into adversaries and require us and others to oppose this bill because it abandons both principle and precedent," he added.

Bishop William Murphy, the chair of the USCCB on Domestic Justice and Human Development, also condemned the vote and said he hoped Congress would apply the Stupak amendment, which the House approved, to the final bill.

“Congress needs to retain existing abortion funding restrictions and safeguard conscience protections because the nation urgently needs health care reform that protects the life, dignity, conscience and health of all," he said. "We will continue to work with Senators, Representatives and the Administration to achieve reform which meets these criteria. We hope the Senate will address the legislation’s fundamental flaw on abortion and remedy its serious problems."

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the new chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, also spoke up about the Nelson amendment loss.

“Congress needs to separate facts and truth from political rhetoric on abortion funding. Even our opponents claim they do not support federal funding for elective abortions and they want current restrictions to apply," he said.

"The way to settle this often misleading debate is simply, clearly and explicitly to apply Hyde restrictions to all the federal funds in the legislation. That is what the House did and what the final bill must do. The Senate should not approve this bill in its current form," he added.

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