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US bishops call for affordable health care without abortion; backtracking on illegal immigrants?

Catholic World News - July 22, 2009

Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, chairman of the Committee for Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in a July 17 letter to Congress that the US bishops support healthcare reform “in a manner that offers accessible, affordable and quality health care that protects and respects the life and dignity of all people from conception until natural death.”

Bishop Murphy offered four “basic ethical principles” that would help ensure “fair and just health care reform.”

  • “a truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity;
  • access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of legal immigrants;
  • pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism including freedom of conscience and variety of options; and
  • restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.”
  • The emphasis on the “inclusion of legal immigrants” appears to represent a change of position from a May letter in which Bishop Murphy called for “comprehensive and affordable health care for every person living in the United States.”

    “As we renew our longstanding support for reforming our nation’s health care system, we must also be clear that we strongly oppose inclusion of abortion as part of a national health care benefit,” Bishop Murphy added. “We would also oppose inclusion of technologies that similarly fail to uphold the sanctity and dignity of life. No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion.” Bishop Murphy also renewed the US bishops’ call for respect for the consciences of healthcare workers who oppose abortion.

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