Catholic Bishops Want Health Care Bill, But Not With Massive Abortion Funding

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 28, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Want Health Care Bill, But Not With Massive Abortion Funding

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 28
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The nation’s Catholic bishops are calling on Congress to complete the work on their health care bill, but they are urging lawmakers to exclude abortion funding. With the Senate bill as the likely basis for the final legislation and reconciliation unlikely to remove abortion, that conclusion seems improbable.

The bishops have called on Congress to continue to work on health care reform to provide access for everyone, protection of life at all stages and conscience rights.

The call came in a January 26 letter signed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston- Houston, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and two other prominent Catholic bishops.

The bishops said that the need for reform remains despite a new political climate which saw the election of Scott Brown from Massachusetts in the Senate provide a filibuster-proof minority.

“Although political contexts have changed, the moral and policy failure that leaves tens of millions of our sisters and brothers without access to health care still remains,” they said. “We encourage Congress to begin working in a bipartisan manner providing political courage, vision and leadership. We must all continue to work towards a solution that protects everyone’s lives and respects their dignity.”

They criticized the Senate bill saying it does not meet the church’s criteria on life and conscience since it does not reflect the current U.S. policy as outlined in the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976.

“The bill’s provision against abortion funding should have the same substantive policy as the Hyde Amendment and parallel provisions in current law, should cover every program in the legislation and should be as permanent as the funding provided by the bill. The House-passed language meets these criteria,” they said.

Both bills are a step backwards in conscience protection, the bishops said.

“The freedom that insurers, purchasers, and sponsors currently enjoy under federal law to offer or purchase health plans that are not morally or religiously objectionable to them would be lost,” they said.

“It is critical that the final bill retain the freedom of conscience that insurers, purchasers, plan sponsors, and health care providers currently have under federal law,” they added.

As has reported, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised that Congress will eventually approve a health care bill and it will likely fund abortions and has other problems.

Although Democrats appeared to put the brakes on a bill for now, a final strategy on where to go from here is expected next week and pro-life groups remain concerned.

Pelosi insisted Wednesday that the House and Senate will pass a bill even though Americans remain very strongly opposed to it and the Senate no longer has a filibuster-proof majority.

"I don’t see (failure) as a possibility," Pelosi said. "We will have something."

Pelosi also said she has the votes to pass the pro-abortion Senate health care bill if reconciliation is used.

"What I’m saying to you is the Senate bill, stand-alone, I don’t see any chance of it [passing the House]," she said. "Reconciliation resolving some of the issues: then we can pass this thing."

Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the Committee on Migration, also signed the letter.

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