The nation’s Catholic bishops applauded the vote last week for legislation that would ban virtually all abortion funding across every federal governmental department and program.
The bill in question, that the House approved Wednesday on a 251-175 vote with Republicans voting 235-0 for the bill and Democrats voting 175-16 against it, does nothing to take away health care access or options for women. The legislation combines several policies that must be enacted every year in Congressional battles and puts them into law where they will not be in jeopardy of being overturned every time Congress changes hands from pro-life lawmakers to those who support abortions.
The Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) welcomed passage of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 3) by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying it is a good because it “codifies a permanent, government-wide policy against taxpayer subsidies for abortion and abortion coverage, improves federal conscience protection for health care providers and entities, and closes various loopholes that give tax-preferred status to abortion.”
“By passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the House has taken a decisive step toward protecting human life, reflecting the will of the American people,” Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, had written to Congress on January 21 urging support for H.R. 3, saying that it will “write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use taxpayers’ money to support and promote elective abortion. … While Congress’s policy has been remarkably consistent for decades, implementation of that policy in practice has been piecemeal, confusing and sometimes sadly inadequate.”
“H.R. 3 also protects the civil rights of health care providers who conscientiously object to involvement in abortion,” McQuade said.
She explained how the bill updates and codifies the Weldon conscience protection amendment to Labor/HHS appropriations bills approved by Congress every year since 2004, ensuring that federal agencies and state and local governments receiving federal funds do not discriminate against health care providers that do not perform or provide abortions.
“Robust protection of conscience rights is essential for Americans’ access to life-saving health care,” McQuade said. “The great majority of doctors, nurses and hospitals do not perform elective abortions; Catholic health care, the largest and highest quality nonprofit health care network in the country, rejects all direct abortions. To penalize these providers or push them out of the system would cause great harm to patients most in need.”
Cardinal DiNardo’s letter may be found at www.usccb.org/prolife/DiNardo-HR3.pdf, and USCCB testimony supporting H.R. 3 on February 8 is available at: www.usccb.org/prolife/HR3-testimony-2011-02-08.pdf.