Bishops Hail Passage of Bill Removing Abortion From Obamacare

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 18, 2011   |   12:09PM   |   Washington, DC

The nation’s Catholic bishops have already put their name behind the legislation that would remove any concerns about funding abortions with taxpayer dollars from the Obamacare legislation approved last year.

As reported, the panel voted for the Protect Life Act sponsored by the subcommittee’s chairman, pro-life Republican Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. Following the passage of the bill in the full House Energy and Commerce Committee, they said they are delighted by the vote and encourage the full House to approve the measure quickly.

“The committee’s action is an important step toward authentic health care reform that respects the dignity of all, from conception onward,” Deirdre McQuade, the spokeswoman for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said after the vote.

She said the bishops “now urge all Representatives to support the Protect Life Act and oppose all weakening amendments when it comes before them.”

Before the final vote on the measure, pro-life Republican lawmakers turned back weakening amendments sponsored by pro-abortion Democrats Henry Waxman, Jan Schkowsky and Elliot Engel.

Last month, the bishop heading the pro-life outreach of the conference announced the bishops’ support for the bill and others to stop taxpayer funding of abortion.

The letter says the Protect Life Act  is needed to “address flaws in the new health care reform law and bring it into line with policies on abortion and conscience rights that have long prevailed in other federal health programs.  It would do so by preventing funds under the new law from subsidizing abortion or health care plans that cover abortion, protecting the consciences of health care providers who decline to participate in an abortion, and ensuring that the law doesn’t override state laws on abortion and conscience.”

Republican lawmakers pointed to the Stupak amendment the House added to its version of the Obamacare bill as proof there is substantial support for removing any concerns the Obamacare law will fund abortions while Democrats relied on scare tactics by saying the Protect Life Act would somehow result in women losing their ability to purchase health care insurance that may cover abortions with premiums.

During the hearing on the bill, Helen Alvare, associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law, and a former spokeswoman for the pro-life office of the United States Conference of Catholic bishops testified on the pro-life side along with Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.