Catholic World News

US bishops to Obama: Don’t roll back pro-life policies

January 22, 2009

Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has written a second letter to President Barack Obama to urge him not to roll back three pro-life policies. Although both letters were dated January 16, the second letter was posted only yesterday on the US bishops’ web site. “I am writing today,” Cardinal George says in his second letter, “on a matter that could introduce significant negative and divisive factors into our national life, at a time when we need to come together to address the serious challenges facing our people. I expect that some want you to take executive action soon to reverse current policies against government-sponsored destruction of unborn human life. I urge you to consider that this could be a terrible mistake-- morally, politically, and in terms of advancing the solidarity and well-being of our nation's people.” Cardinal George noted that “on one occasion, when asked at what point a baby has human rights, you answered in effect that you do not have a definite answer. And you spoke often about a need to reduce abortions … Uncertainty as to when human rights begin provides no basis for compelling others to violate their conviction that these rights exist from the beginning. After all, those people may be right. And if the goal is to reduce abortions, that will not be achieved by involving the government in expanding and promoting abortions.” Urging President Obama to retain the “regulation to protect conscience rights in health care issued last month by the Bush administration,” Cardinal George said that “suggestions that government involvement in health care will be aimed at denying conscience, or excluding Catholic and other health care providers from participation in serving the public good, could threaten much-needed health care reform at the outset.” Asking the president not to rescind the Mexico City Policy, which keeps the “clear line between family planning and abortion” distinct, Cardinal George said that “a shift toward promoting abortion in developing nations would also increase distrust of the United States in these nations, whose values and culture often reject abortion, at a time when we need their trust and respect.” Commenting on the prospect of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Cardinal George noted that such research is already taking place with private funds and that former President Bush’s policy, which “has at times been criticized from both ends of the pro-life debate,” nonetheless sought “to ensure that Americans are not forced to use their tax dollars to encourage expanded destruction of embryonic human beings for their stem cells … Diverting scarce funds away from these promising avenues for research and treatment [such as adult stem cell research] toward the avenue that is most morally controversial as well as most medically speculative would be a sad victory of politics over science.”

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