Bishops Tell House Lawmakers: Vote Against Pro-Abortion Senate Health Care Bill
by Steven Ertelt
March 20, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The nation’s Catholic bishops have one final message for members of the House who are casting their votes later today: vote against the pro-abortion Senate health care bill. Although they favor health care reform, the bishops have consistently put the Church’s pro-life teachings first.
The bishops urged the House of Representatives to fix pro-abortion flaws in health care legislation or vote against its passage in a late Saturday letter to House members that LifeNews.com received.
"We as bishops continue to insist that health care reform which truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all is a moral imperative and urgent national priority," they wrote. "We are convinced that the Senate legislation now presented to the House of Representatives on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis sadly fails this test and ought to be opposed."
Health care reform must protect life and conscience, not threaten them, the letter continues.
"The Senate bill extends abortion coverage, allows federal funds to pay for elective abortions (for example, through a new appropriation for services at Community Health Centers that bypasses the Hyde amendment), and denies adequate conscience protection to individuals and institutions," the bishops explain.
"Needed health care reform must keep in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy that neither elective abortion nor plans which include elective abortion can be paid for with federal funds. Simply put, health care reform ought to continue to apply both parts of the Hyde amendment, no more and no less," the said.
Although the House adopted the Stupak amendment to prohibit abortion funding, the bishops point out, the Senate bill the House is now considering doesn’t have that language.
"The House adopted this policy by a large bipartisan majority, establishing the same protections that govern Medicaid, SCHIP, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and other federal health programs," they said.
The bishops also refute some of the contentions made by Catholic and pro-life groups and lawmakers saying the bill doesn’t fund abortions.
"Despite claims to the contrary, the status quo prohibits the federal government from funding or facilitating plans that include elective abortion. The Senate bill clearly violates this prohibition by providing subsidies to purchase such plans. The House bill provided that no one has to pay for other peoples abortions, while this Senate bill does not," the bishops explained.
"While the Senate provides for one plan without abortion coverage in each exchange, those who select another plan in an exchange to better meet the special needs of their families will be required to pay a separate mandatory abortion fee into a fund exclusively for abortions. This new federal requirement is a far more direct imposition on the consciences of those who do not wish to pay for the destruction of unborn human life than anything currently in federal law," they said.
"It is not those who require that the Hyde Amendment be fully applied who are obstructing reform, since this is the law of the land and the will of the American people. Rather, those who insist on expanding federal participation in abortion, require people to pay for other peoples abortions, and refuse to incorporate essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context) are threatening genuine reform. With conscience protection as with abortion funding, our goal is simply to preserve the status quo," they added.
The bishops are upset Democratic leaders have generally been unwilling to compromise.
"Now, after a year of divisive political combat, members of the House are told that they can advance health care reform only by adopting the Senate legislation as is, including these fundamental flaws," they said.
"The House leadership is ignoring the pleas of pro-life members for essential changes in the legislation. Apparently they will not even try to address the serious problems on abortion funding, conscience protection and fair treatment of immigrants," they lamented.
"At this point of decision, we cannot compromise on basic moral principles. We can only urge — and hope and pray — that the House of Representatives will still find the will and the means to adopt health care reform that protects the life, dignity, conscience and health of all," they concluded.
"With deep regret, but clear in our moral judgment, we are compelled to continue to urge House members to oppose the Senate bill unless these fundamental flaws are remedied. At this critical moment, we urge Representatives to take the steps necessary to ensure that health care reform respects the life and dignity of all, from conception to natural death," they said.
The Catholic bishops are also troubled by the lack of conscience protections for pro-life medical workers.
Under the Senate health care bill that will be the main bill Obama and Democrats push through Congress, there is no ban on abortion funding. While some states can opt out of funding abortions under the plan, taxpayers in other states will be forced to pay for them.
But the bill contains other pro-abortion problems that are concerns for pro-life advocates.
The bill requires that at least one health care plan be promoted across the country that pays for abortions, more abortion funding would come via the affordability credits, and many of the so-called limits on abortion funding in the Senate bill are temporary and could expire or be overturned at a later date.
The Senate health care bill also pays for abortions under the Indian Health Service program.
And it contains the Mikulski amendment that would allow the Obama administration to define abortion as preventative care and force insurance plans to pay for abortions.
Finally, the Senate bill does not contain language needed to offer full conscience protection for pro-life medical workers and facilities.
The letter was signed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, 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 on the Committee on Migration.
Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com
Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.