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US bishops: Enact genuine health reform, oppose current language on abortion, conscience protection

January 27, 2010

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging members of Congress to “come together and recommit themselves to enact genuine health care reform that will protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.”

“The health care debate, with all its political and ideological conflict, seems to have lost its central moral focus and policy priority, which is to ensure that affordable, quality, life-giving care is available to all,” the bishops write. “Now is not the time to abandon this task, but rather to set aside partisan divisions and special interest pressures to find ways to enact genuine reform.”

“The U.S. Catholic bishops continue to urge the House and Senate to adopt legislation that ensures access to quality, affordable, life giving health care for all; retains longstanding requirements that federal funds not be used for elective abortions or plans that include them, and effectively protects conscience rights; and, protects the access to health care that immigrants currently have and removes current barriers to access.”

The bishops reiterated their serious concerns about the health care legislation that has been passed by the House and Senate.

Disappointingly, the Senate-passed bill in particular does not meet our moral criteria on life and conscience. Specifically, it violates the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions -- a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment as well as in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and now in the House-passed “Affordable Health Care for America Act.” We believe legislation that fails to comply with this policy and precedent is not true health care reform and should be opposed until this fundamental problem is remedied.

The bill passed by the House (and to a lesser extent the Senate-passed bill) recognizes the need to protect conscience rights on abortion. However, provisions in both bills pose a threat to conscience that is not limited to abortion. That threat needs to be removed before any final bill is passed.

The January 26 letter was written by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the Committee on Migration.


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  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Jan. 27, 2010 6:37 PM ET USA

    Bishops: It's not only abortion! If they pass this monstrosity, consolidate all health care under government and start to ration when the money runs out, not only the unborn, but anyone who plans to age will be at risk! When they rule you're too old for a bypass at 68 or dialysis at 55 and give you morphine to ease the pain of the heart attack until you either survive on your own or die, will you Bishops stomp your feet angrily and say "We never intended this!" Too late by then, guys! Too late!